Actions of suspects were not caught on camera, making proving a case difficult

The three individuals who allegedly were conspiring to break out of the Marion County Jail may not be charged for their actions, according to the Sheriff Jimmy Shinn.

Beyond a tip from another inmate to U.S. Marshals that implicated the trio in the breakout attempt, actual hard evidence of their efforts is in short supply.

“I’m not sure if I can charge them as this area of the jail is not on camera,” said Shinn. “Therefore we cannot prove without a doubt who did what damage.”

On Monday, Shinn indicated that none of the three suspects had been forthcoming with additional information regarding their attempt to escape when they were interviewed by investigators.

“They all ‘lawyered up’ on us last week when we tried to talk to them,” said the sheriff.

Because none of the three individuals have been charged, the sheriff is not releasing their identities. During Monday’s meeting of the Marion County Commission, Shinn reported that two of the suspects were from this area while the other was a federal inmate being housed in the Palmyra facility.

Shinn did not indicate if he had spoken with Marion County Prosecutor David Clayton regarding the matter. Ultimately the filing of charges against any of the individuals involved is up to Clayton.

While the jailbreak suspects remain housed at the Marion County Jail they are on “administrative lockdown,” noted Shinn.

The efforts to escape were discovered on June 6 after another inmate being housed at the jail provided information regarding the ongoing efforts to break out to members of the U.S. Marshal Service in St. Louis.

“The subject who gave the info was in the (same) pod, but was not involved in any way that we can tell,” said Shinn.

The sheriff said Monday that for the protection of the inmate who provided the tip, he was taken to another place for incarceration.

During a June 6 inspection of the jail by Shinn, members of his jail staff and U.S. Marshals, evidence was uncovered that indicated an escape attempt was indeed ongoing.

Shinn has stressed that the inmates involved in the breakout effort were far from reaching freedom. While they had managed to remove two concrete blocks from an interior wall, the inmates would soon have been confronted by building infrastructure, such as water pipes, and then the building’s exterior wall.

“There’s really nowhere for them to have gone,” said the sheriff earlier this week. “However, they were working on it.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com