HENRIETTA, Mo. — Other Ray County inmates aren’t surprised there was an escape early Tuesday at the county jail.
“Only tin is stopping us from getting in the attic. But, I mean, I’m kind of surprised it happened the way it did,” inmate Earl Stackhouse told FOX4.
Wednesday was day 2 of a manhunt for an escaped inmate in Ray County, highlighting problems at the local jail and likely contributors.
Ray County Sheriff Scott Childers said an inmate stabbed a correctional officer using a shank made out of metal pulled from the jail’s crumbling walls.
The Ray County Sheriff’s Department released video of the attack, but the video above has been edited to remove the worst of the incident.
The jailhouse video shows a corrections officer unlocking a cell, and two inmates come out. A struggle ensues, and the inmates stab the officer at least 10 times. The inmates then walk away as the guard staggers behind them.
Childers said he caught one of those inmates the same night they escaped. Twenty-year-old Liam Olinger now faces several charges related to his attempted escape and the assault of the correctional officer.
Meanwhile, 39-year-old Justin Robinson is still on the run. He was originally charged for stabbing his pregnant girlfriend back in January, accused of doing so in front of four children.
On Wednesday, FOX4 toured the jail he escaped from, seeing the conditions Childers blames for the situation.
In the F-Pod of the Ray County Jail, sharp metal hangs off the ceiling. This is similar to what may have been used to shank the correctional officer. But Childers said there are a lot more issues than that.
During the tour, Childers struggled to unlock and lock every barred door with a giant key. He called the system woefully out of date.
“We have to use shackles to keep that one closed,” said Childers, pointing to handcuffs holding one door closed.
Childers blames the issues on outdated designs paired with poor construction.
“We have mold everywhere, and the mold you just can’t get rid of,” Childers said.
“When you have all this moisture, the metal corrodes everything,” he said.
“Right there’s a pretty good shank,” he said, peeling a piece of metal from the wall.
“I feel like I’m in a Mexican jail or something that I’ve seen on Discovery Channel,” Ray County inmate Michael McIntosh said.
Inmate Timothy Orr said the walls even move. Stackhouse said things fall off them, too.
“Honestly, it’s easy to make any kind of weapon in here. There’s so many — the ceiling, the walls, the bars. If you really wanted to, it’s insanely easy. Just metal everywhere,” Stackhouse said.
During FOX4’s visit, a toilet overflowed in the isolation area, spilling all the way to the women’s wing.
“I kind of feel like I’m in a dog kennel here,” Ray County inmate Gabrielle Brown said.
“This is the worst jail I’ve ever been housed at. I’ve been housed in Clay County before, and it’s just night and day difference, you know what I mean?” Brown said.
Childers previously called on Ray County voters to pass a sales tax to fund a new facility.
“I think everybody in the county realizes we need a new jail. It’s just they don’t want to pay taxes. And I can understand, especially, even from two years ago to now — the economy, everything’s so much higher,” Childers said.
But after the sales tax vote failed, Ray County commissioners are now exploring new options, perhaps applying local recreational marijuana sales taxes to the jail if that ballot question passes. The last tax vote failed by 84%.
“It is not made for what is needed in this day and time. And one of the things that I’ve seen, talking with our residents and everything, is they’re looking for a change. They’re tired of things being the way they always have been,” Presiding Ray County Commissioner Billy Gaines said.
“It’s embarrassing. Also, it’s dangerous,” Childers said.
Especially with inmates not viewing an escape as a challenge.
“No, not really. The conditions of this jail are (expletive) up,” Orr said.
“We could leave here if we wanted to. You can see the condition of this. This is like a trailer,” McIntosh said.
Childers also said the attic of the jail is made of wood. So not only is it a fire risk with the lock issues, but if an inmate were to push through the metal ceiling, that’s yet another real possibility for escape.