Archive for Wednesday, April 17, 2002

Sheriff reports first escapee from new jail

April 17, 2002


A man serving jail time for fleeing and eluding police is the first inmate to escape from the 2-year-old Douglas County Jail.

Law enforcement officers have been searching for Vernon D. Folks, 29, Eudora, since he fled through an outside jail door used by prisoners in a work-release program, Sheriff Rick Trapp said.

The escape occurred shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday when another prisoner was being allowed by jailers to leave for work release through a remote-controlled door.

"As that prisoner was being released, another one slipped out," Trapp said.

The door opens out from a barracks-like area where the work-release prisoners stay, Trapp said.

Folks was serving a combined six-month sentence for convictions in Douglas County Court on misdemeanor charges of fleeing and eluding police and battery.

Folks is the first to escape from the fortress-like jail, which opened Sept. 11, 1999, on land south of Kansas Highway 10 off Franklin Road.

Jailers learned of the escape just seconds after it happened when the prisoner who was supposed to be allowed to leave contacted them by the intercom at the door, Trapp said.

"We are investigating all of our procedures and equipment to see that this doesn't happen again," Trapp said. "I'm not happy it happened, obviously."

Sheriff's officers notified surrounding law enforcement agencies to watch for Folks, who ran west from the jail through a wooded area, Trapp said.

The news media and the public weren't alerted to the escape, however, until Tuesday when a sheriff's report about the incident became available. Trapp said officers were busy following leads and investigating the incident after if occurred.

"In retrospect, I think we probably should have let the media and the public know sooner," Trapp said. "I'll take the responsibility for that."

Folks is a white man with brown hair and hazel eyes. He is 6 feet tall and weighs 180 pounds. He was wearing a brown jail uniform.

Anyone with information can call 843-TIPS, or 841-0007.

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