Lauderdale Sheriff Blames Commission for Jail Escapes

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - For the second time in less than eight months, authorities are searching for an escaped inmate who climbed his way to freedom through an air conditioning duct.

The latest break from the Lauderdale County Detention Center happened early Monday morning.

“We feel like he is headed back to his old stomping grounds in Kentucky,” said Lauderdale County Sheriff Ronnie Willis.

Investigators said during head count, jailors discovered Terry Wayne Myers was missing from his A-block cell.

Sheriff Willis believes Myers escaped through an unsecured air vent that opens into the inmate’s cell and runs to the roof.

"Our jail is a pre-slab jail that was brought in and put together in sections at a time. It is easy to get out."

Sheriff Willis said three other inmates escaped the same way eight months ago.

Willis thinks he could stop the escapes, but says the county commission will not give him the funds to do so.

“To do it right, we would be putting razor wire down it, where when they climbed up it, it would cut them,” said Sheriff Willis. “Or, welding the tops or putting a lock at the top where they can’t come up.”

And according to Sheriff Willis, jailors will do everything they can to keep inmates locked up.

But, until the Lauderdale County Commission gives him some money, Willis says he can’t guarantee there will not be any more jail escapes.

In a statement from the Lauderdale County Commission Chairman, Dewey Mitchell said Sheriff Willis has not approached the commission about the escapee problem at the detention center.

However, Mitchell says they would gladly speak with the sheriff about the issues at the jail.