LIBERTY — An outdoor worship service at the Amite County Jail got lively Sunday when a pair of inmates — perhaps taking the gospel message of “the truth shall set you free” a bit too literally — broke and ran, Sheriff Tim Wroten said Monday.
Heather Cox, 44, of Eden — a village in Yazoo County, not the Biblical garden — and Derrick Blackburn, 26, of Jackson were captured Sunday afternoon and charged with jail escape.
An unidentified minister from New Orleans was conducting worship around 1 p.m. outside the sallyport, with male inmates in the adjacent fenced exercise yard and females in the sallyport, or garage.
“While he was preaching, the male decided to climb the fence and she decided to break and run,” Wroten said.
The pair had been arrested together in Liberty shortly after Hurricane Ida for possession of burglary tools, possession of stolen property and providing false information to officers There was also a hold on them from north Mississippi for allegedly getting people to pay them to clean up fallen trees, then absconding without doing the work.
Wroten said he didn’t know if they somehow conspired to escape — men and women are held separately in jail — or if the attempt was spontaneous.
Blackburn, who cut himself climbing the fence, ran into some woods behind the jail but didn’t get far, Wroten said.
“The deputies got on him pretty quick,” he said.
Cox, meanwhile, fled west toward County Farm Road and Highway 48, Wroten said, speculating she hoped to flag a ride.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol put a malinois search dog on her trail but it quickly lost the scent. Officials from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola arrived with bloodhounds, and one tracked her behind the Mississippi Department of Transportation equipment barn on Highway 48, where she was captured.
Blackburn and Cox are being held without bond.
Also participating in the search were officers from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, Mississippi Department of Corrections, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Liberty, Gloster and Centreville police departments. They apparently followed a different scripture: Seek and ye shall find.