Jail Inmates Used Tunnel,Window to Escape

Madera,CA – One Madera County jail inmate escaped by tunneling out of his housing unit to a common room,where he broke out a large window and escaped apparently unnoticed by jailers,a Madera County supervisor said Sunday.

Four more inmates apparently followed through that same window.

Tom Wheeler,chairman of the Madera County Board of Supervisors,said it’s “mind-boggling” how the inmates could have escaped,but he plans to find out what went wrong.

“You build a brand new jail and spend $30 million,you’d think that it would be foolproof,” Wheeler said. “It had to be a flaw somewhere in that building.”

The last escaped inmate,30-year-old Roel Soliz of Chowchilla,was captured by Madera County sheriff’s deputies around 3 p.m. Sunday in Fairmead,after someone called the Sheriff’s Office with an anonymous tip.

Soliz was among five inmates who slipped out of the Madera County Department of Corrections jail Friday night.

The other four — 25-year-old Abel Ramos,30-year-old Juan Lopez,19-year-old Ricardo Cendejas and 26-year-old Jorge Lopez-Diaz,all from Madera — were captured Saturday night following an anonymous tip to Crime Stoppers.

Corrections officials realized the men were missing about an hour after they escaped at 9:15 p.m.,Madera County sheriff’s spokeswoman Erica Stuart said Saturday.

Wheeler said Madera County Administrator Eric Fleming and Department of Corrections Director Manuel Perez kept members of the Board of Supervisors informed throughout the night with near hourly text updates.

The Department of Corrections is operated independently of the Sheriff’s Office.

Wheeler said the first message he got at 10:50 p.m. Friday said just one inmate — Lopez,who was being held on attempted murder charges — had escaped.

Two hours later,at 12:57 a.m.,Wheeler got another text with a new headcount — six inmates were believed to have escaped.

The next morning,after corrections officials did a bed count,they updated that figure to five escapees,he said. Wheeler got the update by text at 8:15 a.m.

Wheeler said that first text he received from Fleming and Perez said Lopez tunneled from his housing unit to a common room called the “civil tank.” There,he broke a large window and escaped to freedom.

Jail staff at the time were trying to keep the facility secured while the window was being repaired,Wheeler said.

Wheeler said he wasn’t told how the other four escaped,but said it must have been through the same broken window.

“Manuel had to get most of his staff to secure the window while it was being repaired,” he said.

Perez did not return calls Sunday seeking comment.

Friday’s escape was the second in three months. In July,47-year-old Bryan King,being held on narcotics and weapons charges,jumped over a fence while taking out the garbage. He was caught the next day.

In 2003,five jail inmates broke out of jail and escaped in a waiting car. Two eventually were recaptured.

Wheeler said Friday’s escape was spooky. “I just worried they would do something to somebody and then we (would be) responsible.”

Residents living near the jail said they only learned of the escape Saturday morning through Facebook or when a reporter knocked on their door Saturday afternoon.

Stuart said the escape was a “physical breach,” but she declined to provide details other than to say that the inmates did not violently force their way out.

Jail officials and sheriff’s detectives are investigating.

“You build a brand new jail and spend $30 million,you’d think that it would be foolproof.” — Tom Wheeler,chairman of the Madera County Board of Supervisors

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6279, acastillo@fresnobee.com or @andreamcastillo on Twitter.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/09/21/4137497/inmates-escaped-through-window.html#storylink=cpy
Source: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/09/21/4137497/inmates-escaped-through-window.html
Published: September 21,2014 
By: Andrea Castillo 

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