The Alabama peanut butter caper was not the most sophisticated jailbreak, but it did the trick.
Some inmates in Walker County Jail in Jasper saved peanut butter from their sandwiches and used it like modeling clay to help alter the number above a door that led to the outside. The change made the number resemble the ones above cell doors.
When an inmate demanded that a rookie guard open the door, the guard thought he was letting the inmate back into his cell.
Instead, on Sunday evening, a dozen inmates walked right through the door to make their escape.
“Changing some numbers on the door with peanut butter — that may sound crazy,” the county sheriff, James E. Underwood, said at a news conference on Monday. “But these people are crazy like a fox.”
Twelve inmates escaped, and by Tuesday night, all of them had been recaptured. Sheriff Underwood said it took about eight hours to take the first 11 inmates into custody; the 12th was captured Tuesday around 6:30 p.m. Central time.
The inmates who escaped ranged in age from 18 to 30 and were facing charges that included disorderly conduct, domestic violence and attempted murder, according to the Facebook page for the sheriff’s department.
With tips and help from the public, most were recaptured in the Jasper area, and at least two were picked up at the Flying J Travel Plaza service area near Interstate 65, officials said.
“We’ve got some evil people down here,” Sheriff Underwood said. “They scheme all the time to con us and our employees here at the jail. You have to stay on your toes. This is one time we slipped up. I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a human error that caused this to happen.”
Built in 1998, Walker County Jail holds about 240 inmates and is surrounded by a razor-wire fence. As part of their “well laid out” plan, the sheriff said, the inmates threw their blankets over the wire so they could get over it. Two escapees were cut by razor-wire as they fled; one of those inmates was hospitalized so that he could “have his thumb sewn back on,” the sheriff said.
The inmates, who discarded their orange jumpsuits, had taken advantage of a “young fellow who hasn’t been here very long,” the sheriff added. The guard had been monitoring about 140 inmates in the jail’s “control area” and had “violated policy,” Sheriff Underwood said. He would not specify how the guard would be disciplined, but he said, “We’re going to take care of that matter.”
Sheriff Underwood also said civilians outside the jail could be charged with crimes for assisting the escape.
On Monday, the search for the last missing inmate — Brady Andrew Kilpatrick, 24 — expanded to Shelby County, about 70 miles southeast of Walker County. Deputies were pursuing a woman they had understood to be the escapee’s girlfriend when a fatal crash occurred, the Shelby County coroner, Lina Evans, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday night.
The woman had a male passenger in her vehicle, Ms. Evans said, but he did not turn out to be Mr. Kilpatrick.
When deputies tried to stop the vehicle, the woman began driving “erratically” and fast in an effort to get away, Ms. Evans said. A four-vehicle crash ensued, killing the male passenger, Michael Francis Xavier Lee, a 34-year-old county resident, Ms. Evans said.
The authorities later searched the woman’s home and did not find the inmate, Ms. Evans added.
The Shelby County sheriff’s office did not respond to a phone message seeking comment Tuesday night.
The female driver, whom Ms. Evans did not identify, was injured and was in “very serious condition” at a hospital, she said, adding that she did not know whether the woman had been taken into custody.
An earlier version of this article misstated what time Brady Andrew Kilpatrick was captured on Tuesday. He was captured at 6:30 p.m. Central time, not Eastern time.
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