|ESCAPEE: Charles Lance Kelly|
The escapee has been taken into custody.
Marion Assistant Police Chief Bobby West said employees and patrons at Five Star Convenience Center had notified authorities that Kelly had been in the store asking about where he might find a motel.
They began looking for the escapee downtown and later saw Kelly near Five Star. An eyewitness told The Press that Kelly had been hiding behind a garbage can at the Farmers Market on Main Street. Police ultimately found Kelly trying to hide in a overgrown, weedy area behind The Crittenden Press at 11:15pm.
One of the three inmates who was found to be missing during a prisoner transport to Crittenden County Detention Center apparently fled custody in Marion. Authorities had come to believe that all three had left the Prisoner Transport Service of America (PTS) bus at a previous stop in Benton, Ill.
The inmate who apparently fled custody in Marion is Charles Lance Kelly of Michigan. Jailer Robbie Kirk said Kelly is very identifiable. He is a white male with thick brown hair and a beard. He also has a bad left eye and rose tattoo on his left forearm.
Kirk said just before 10 p.m. that the discovery was made after viewing additional surveillance video from the jail.
"It's no doubt it's him," Kirk said of Kelly from the footage.
Initial surveillance viewed by authorities did not show anyone fleeing the bus during the transfer. But the newly-reviewed angle shows Kelly escaping custody between the back of the detention center and the adjacent restricted custody center. The escape took place when the transport bus was parked on West Carlisle Street in front of the jail, not on detention center property, Kirk added.
He apparently had not been booked into Crittenden County Detention Center. The jailer said no one housed at the local lock-up had escaped.
The jailer would not identify what charges Kelly was jailed on, but did say that he is a convicted felon. Kirk said authorities consider all escapees to be potentially dangerous. He urges anyone who thinks they may have seen Kelly to immediately call 911.
"I'd be cautious," he said, urging witnesses to not engage Kelly. "Just report to law enforcement."
Authorities earlier reported they believed all three missing men – two white and one black – fled the custody of PTS at a stop at McDonald's in southern Illinois. Kirk, a former state police officer, said that assumption was made based on the information they had at the time.
The three inmates were first discovered missing around 4:45 p.m. following a head count after five female prisoners were transferred into the jail from the bus without incident. Authorities began to canvass the area, but later believed from early video footage – and information gained through interviews with the remaining inmates on the transport – that no one escaped PTS custody while in Marion.
Marion Assistant Police Chief Bobby West said PTS reported 25 meals were purchased at the McDonald's in Illinois and 25 meals were distributed, indicating all the prisoners on the transport manifest were accounted for at the time. Therefore, it became unclear exactly when the men escaped.
We will continue to follow this story and update information as it becomes available.