Inmate escapes, captured near airport

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An escaped inmate was recaptured by area law enforcement officers on Friday night, seven hours after he managed to sneak out of the Barry County Jail.

Timothy Stringer, 33, of Golden, was discovered by officers in a trailer near the Cassville Airport at around 10 p.m. Stringer was being held on charges of possession of a controlled substance, child pornography and statutory rape and also had a burglary charge out of Berryville, Ark. He now adds the charge of escape from confinement to his list of crimes.

Stringer was first discovered missing from the jail at around 3:15 p.m. Friday when a citizen called 911 to report a man in a black and white striped jail uniform running from the facility.

Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly said Stringer escaped from the jail's outside recreational area. This open air area of the jail is located in the center of the complex and is covered by chain link attached by heavy duty clamps.

"One of the other inmates put him on his shoulders and Stringer was able to get above the cameras and used a camera bracket to get up to the chain link," said Epperly. "He kept prying on the chain link until he got a small hole and was able to climb out."

Witnesses saw Stringer go past LeCompte's Lumber on East Seventh Street and down toward the city's public works building. Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr used her K-9 Charka to find Stringer's discarded jail clothes in Flat Creek near the city park.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Cassville Police Department and the Missouri Water Patrol assisted the Barry County Sheriff's Department in the search for Stringer. A Highway Patrol helicopter was utilized in the manhunt, and people living near the area where Stringer was eventually apprehended reported that the helicopter was flying so low they were able to clearly read the letters and numbers in its tail number.

"We kept running down leads and searching houses where we thought he might be," said Epperly. "At around 10 or 10:30 (p.m.), we got another tip that he was in a residence up by the airport. I got everyone together and we went to the house."

Epperly said he and Deputy Danny Crabb entered the home through the front door and spotted Stringer sitting in a chair with his back to the officers.

"He didn't see us and I got him down on the ground and cuffed him without incident," said Epperly.

According to Epperly, Stringer was being investigated by the Highway Patrol for money laundering and additional child pornography charges. Those charges against Stringer should be filed soon in federal court.

"We arrested Stringer three weeks ago in Golden on a probation violation, and he tried to hide in a closet," said Epperly. "So he kind of likes to run and hide."

After Stringer's capture, he was returned to the Barry County Jail where he is being held in a holding cell. By escaping from jail, Stringer could add five to seven years to his sentence.

"I think it is good we got him the same night without him hurting anyone," said Epperly. "I appreciate the great response of our area law enforcement and our citizens."

Under state law, inmates are allowed one hour of exercise time per day, so Epperly cannot keep inmates from being out in the recreational area. The sheriff said he intends to more heavily reinforce the chain link fence in that area and take a closer look at the jail's video surveillance system.

"We want to make sure this never happens again," said Epperly.

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