UPDATE: Wayne Mitchell, the escaped inmate at Hendricks County, was taken back into custody as of 3:39 p.m.. Futher details were not released.
An inmate has escaped from Hendricks County, Indiana’s prison system, sparking concern over safety among local residents and leaving officials at the facility scrambling for answers as to how it happened.
— Mike Pelton (@MikePeltonRTV6) January 15, 2016
Authorities claim that 32-year-old Wayne Mitchell – who had served as an inmate at Hendricks County since his December 18 arrest – broke free Thursday night from the jail’s inmate worker station, to which he had been assigned. The escaped inmate had been serving time for failing to appear in court, although the charges that originally ran him afoul of the law last year have not been reported.
Per RTV 6 ABC, officials believe that Mitchell broke into a secured area of the garage and drove off with a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 truck.
The escaped inmate is believed to be driving a commaneered vehicle with a blue Indiana license plate that reads “7735.” Officials also claim that the Dodge Ram has a “chrome toolbox” behind its cab, as well as a “Hendricks County seal,” and is emblazoned with a “Planning & Building” department logo on each of its doors.
Hendricks County officials believe that – despite the escaped inmate having last been seen by the prison staff at around 7:15 p.m. – the crime could have occurred any time up until approximately 4:20 a.m. when it was realized that Mitchell did not return home from his mandated work duty.
In light of this unexpected inmate escape, the Hendricks County, Indiana prison system has supended its entire inmate worker program. Inmates at the facility are expected to be under tighter supervision until such time as a full investigation into this case is conducted and, likely, the escaped Mitchell is re-booked.
Authorities are asking that those with further information contact Hendricks County police at (317) 745-9354 or (317) 839-8700.
Depite the surprising nature and circumstances surrounding this inmate escape, the Hendricks County prison – which is located in Danville, Indiana – is no stranger to bad publicity in recent years.
In fact, the documented manner in which some of the prison’s workers have conducted their work since 2014 might leave more than a few sympathetic toward Mitchell and other inmates who have not escaped.
In particular, recent allegations of police brutality, corruption, and, according to WTHR NBC, other “conduct unbecoming of a police officer” at the Hendricks County facility have left a trail of suspensions and arrests among prison staff in its wake.
While random accusations of abuse by officers of the law are by no means anything new in 2016, two separate instances of corruption among Hendricks County staffers have rocked the prison community in recent years.
In 2014, WTHR NBC reported, 44-year-old Seargent Kris Allen was fired and later inprisoned for his role in “using excessive force on an inmate” at the prison. Officer Allen found himself in trouble after complaints by inmate Chad Mitchell – who is not related to Wayne – of physical brutality led to an internal investigation within the Hendricks County facility’s walls. Mitchell was being detained at the time on charges of theft.
Similarly, Hendricks County prison deputees Jason and Teresa Woods, who are also a married couple, were each suspended from active duty amidst allegations of corruption, violations of department rules, and “failing to react to known criminal activity.”
“We as law enforcement officials are held to a higher standard,” said Hendricks County Sheriff Dave Galloway of the separate incidents, according to WTHR NBC. Citing the county’s Zero-Tolerance Policy for misconduct, he noted that “The public expects our behavior to be above board.”
[Image by Getty Images]