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End-of-shift headcounts, overnight counts failed to alert jail officials about escape

State officials said Friday that three formal, end-of-shift headcounts and two informal, overnight counts failed to alert jail staff that inmate Todd Boyes had escaped hours before from South Central Regional Jail. (West Virginia Regional Jail)

State officials said Friday that three formal, end-of-shift headcounts and two informal, overnight counts failed to alert jail staff that an inmate had escaped hours before from South Central Regional Jail.

“Officials at both the Regional Jail Authority and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety consider the incident to be a grave and unacceptable breach of their core duty to protect their fellow West Virginians,” a news release from the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said. “We intend to address the episode and the results of the ongoing investigation with the utmost seriousness.

Todd Wayne Boyes, 44, escaped from the jail about 5:50 a.m. Wednesday, wearing khaki pants and a dark green or grey zip-up jacket which he wore to escape by posing as a civilian or trusty, according to a news release from Lawrence Messina, director of communications for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Messina said the ongoing investigation is focused on whether the procedure for these counts was followed properly. The procedure involves the lockdown of inmates and the matching of inmates to booking and Offender Information System records, among other measures.

The formal head count conducted at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26, revealed that Boyes was missing. During the resulting investigation, a review of the facility's security video showed footage of Boyes leaving the facility the previous morning. West Virginia State Police said they did not receive notification he was missing until 12:30 a.m. Friday.

The inmate was scheduled to be sentenced to three to 20 years in prison Friday morning for fleeing and possession of a stolen car.

Boyes originally was charged with attempted murder after ramming a police car and injuring an officer. The charge was dropped during a plea deal in September that could have landed him three to 20 years in prison. On Sept. 28, Boyes pleaded guilty to fleeing with reckless indifference to the safety of others, possession of a stolen vehicle and fleeing from police causing bodily injury. The charges followed a February police pursuit where Boyes rammed a Charleston police cruiser after a string of carjackings in Ohio.

Given Boyes’ criminal record, he is to be considered armed and dangerous. State officials said there is no indication that Boyes obtained any sort of weapon from the facility during his escape. If sighted, he is not to be approached but instead law enforcement is to be contacted.

State officials said information regarding the escape remains preliminary, and the exact circumstances of the escape remain under investigation.

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