ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) –The St. Louis Corrections Commissioner says a guard actually interrupted Friday morning’s downtown Justice Center escape in progress, but failed to act!
Gene Stubblefield tells KMOX a guard investigated noises coming from Vernon Collins and David White’s cell and saw a portable bunk resting on a wall of their cell in a ladder like position, “He simply asked an inmate for an explanation of the noise, and the inmate told him he was shadow boxing.”
Stubblefield says the guard checked again after hearing a noise later and accepted the inmate’s explanation that he was exercising.
By the time he checked an hour later the suspects had climbed through a ceiling, broke a rebar enclosed window and climbed down their bedsheets to freedom.
The escape from the jail’s medical unit was discovered by a nurse distributing medicine at about 6 a.m.
The escapees are 34-year-old Vernon Collins and 33-year-old David White. Collins is 6’1 and 170 lbs. and was being held on 1st Degree Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer, Armed Criminal Action, Assault 1st Degree, Resisting Arrest and Disarming a Peace or Correctional Officer.
White is 6’2, 180 lbs. and was being held on Burglary 1st, 2nd Degree Domestic Assault, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, 1st degree endangering the welfare of a Child and 2nd Degree Property Damage.
The inmates may have been out for up to 90 minutes before authorities realized they were gone, a fact Jeff Rainford, chief of staff for Mayor Slay, finds unacceptable.
Rainford described the guard as a ”knuckle-headed corrections officer” .
Stubblefield says the guard is an 8-year veteran and as far as he knows, had a clean work record.
He says the guard couldn’t give an explanation for not further investigating the noises and bunk against the wall. He says that when asked if he thought the bunk was in an unusual position, the guard answered, “Now I can tell you it looks strange.”
Anyone who sees either or both suspects should call 911 immediately.
Stay with KMOX and KMOX.com for more on this developing story.
(Copyright KMOX Radio)