Deputies to interview Miller County jail guards

TEXARKANA, Ark. — Miller County jail guards on duty the night six men escaped will be interviewed by deputies trying to find out how a hacksaw was smuggled into the facility, officials said Thursday.

Chief Deputy Tommy Hollin told the Texarkana Gazette newspaper that officials believe a guard snuck the hacksaw inside at the request of inmates. Hollin said guards also conducted a shakedown at the troubled jail Thursday, but declined to say what officers found.

Thursday, workers continued installing expanded metal grating over the jail’s windows to stop inmates from escaping. Hollin said workers also began installing new security cameras on higher mounts throughout the jail. Older cameras had become targets for inmates using broomsticks or blankets to disable them.

Hollin said the new cameras will be encased in tough glass and can be rotated to show several views.

“If you shot it with a .45, you couldn’t bust the glass on it,” the chief deputy said.

Hollin said about half the surveillance cameras in the jail don’t work, and that the Miller County Quorum Court is reluctant to approve bids to install new security equipment because a new sheriff, Ron Stovall, is to take office Jan. 1.

“This is an emergency,” Hollin said. “You don’t need to get bids to take care of an emergency.”

Deputies said two inmates remained missing Thursday afternoon: Bennie Ray Johnson, 23, of Bradley, Ark., who faces charges of aggravated robbery and second-degree battery; and Anthony Michael Brown, 30, of Texarkana, Texas, who faces charges of theft, burglary and failure to appear in court.

Deputies on Wednesday captured escapees Jeffrey Dean Smith, 36, of Texarkana, Texas; Codarrius Morris, 20, of Texarkana, Ark.; and Kenneth Dewayne Riley, 40, of Wilton, Ark., who faces an 80-year prison sentence for an aggravated robbery conviction as a habitual offender.

Victor Threadgill also escaped Tuesday but was caught in the jail yard, authorities said. Threadgill recently pleaded guilty to murdering an Ashdown car salesman and is awaiting transfer to a state prison.

The four captured inmates appeared before a judge Thursday. Miller County Circuit Judge Jim Hudson set bail for the men at $200,000 apiece.


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