2 inmates escape from North Alabama jails, 1 back in custody

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DECATUR, Ala – Two inmates escaped from different North Alabama county jails on Sunday, one of them is now back in custody.

John Allen York, 28, escaped from the Lawrence County Jail at 2 a.m on Sunday, according to a press release from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office. Monday morning, York was found at a local business about a quarter-mile from the jail and is back in custody.

John Kaleb Gillespie also made his escape on Sunday, but from the Morgan County Jail, and has not been found.

Public Information Officer at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Mike Swafford, said another inmate helped Gillespie escape by letting him stand on his back to climb the wall.

“It’s incredibly rare for someone to escape from the secure part of the building, to my knowledge this is the first time it’s ever happened,” Swafford said.

Officials said Gillespie is 6-feet-tall and weighs 180 pounds. He was accused of trying to kill a State Trooper and has escaped police several times in the past.

“We’re piecing together family history, connections to the area, connections outside the area, trying to put together a timeline, and then find tips, leads or evidence along those routes that lead us in that direction,” Swafford said.

According to authorities, Gillespie’s recent history with law enforcement includes a rape charge, failing to register as a sex offender and drug trafficking.

“We’re tracing down multiple leads, throughout last night and overnight, we feel confident that we will find him,” Swafford said.

Swafford said sheriff’s investigator’s first concern is to find Gillespie and then they will turn their attention to review their policies, procedures, and see if there are any gaps that need to be addressed.

“We currently believe that he is probably still in the area from what we have been able to determine so far,” said Swafford.  “Our biggest ask for the public is to just report anything suspicious, out of ordinary, and the public has been doing that, they’ve been very helpful.”

Authorities say Gillespie may have cuts on him from climbing through razor wire during his escape.

Anyone who comes in contact with or knows Gillespie’s whereabouts should not approach him and call 911.