Four men detained in a central Georgia jail—including one being held on a murder charge—escaped through a damaged window and a cut fence early Monday morning, authorities said.
Two were being held on drug-related charges, while one had been charged with aggravated assault. The fourth was being held on murder charges.
During a news conference Monday, Bibb County Sheriff David Davis said that jail staff noticed a break in the perimeter fence around 6 a.m. that day. Video footage revealed that the four men had been able to make their way out through a window in a second-floor dayroom, and then escaped through the fence around 3:30 a.m.
“They could be anywhere,” the sheriff said, adding that he was not aware of any connections between the men before they entered the jail, and that he doesn’t know whether or not they stayed together after the escape.
Further inspection of surveillance footage indicated that a blue Dodge Challenger had been outside the jail earlier in the night near where the men escaped through the fence. According to the sheriff, the driver appeared to have tampered with the fence, and to have left some items into the enclosed area—which investigators believe were used to help the men escape. He did not say what the items were.
Mr. Davis said it’s not clear whether the four men left the jail in the blue Dodge or in another vehicle, or whether they left on foot, but authorities would like to speak to the driver of the Challenger.
Local, state and federal authorities are searching for the four men in what the sheriff called an “all-hands-on-deck situation.” In addition to Crimestoppers, two more hotlines were set up at the sheriff’s office.
A $1,000 reward is being offered for tips leading to an arrest for each inmate, Mr. Davis said.
“Right now my focus is getting these individuals back in the jail, and we’ll dissect what happened and fix that as we go forward,” he said.
The sheriff’s office provided descriptions of the four men:
Joey Fournier, 52, is a 5-foot-9-inch white male with gray hair and blue eyes, and was being held on a murder charge after he was accused of killing his ex-girlfriend in February 2022, according to local news outlets.
Marc Kerry Anderson, 24, is a 5-foot-9-inch black male with dreadlocks, and weighs around 165 pounds. He is charged with aggravated assault.
Johnifer Barnwell, 37, is a 5-foot-9-inch black male with braids who was being held for the U.S. Marshals Service on drug charges.
The fourth inmate is 29-year-old Chavis Demaryo Stokes, a 5-foot-7-inch black male with short black hair. He was being held on charges of possession of a firearm and drug trafficking.
During a Q&A session, the sheriff explained that the dayrooms in Bibb County jail are not locked at night because detainees are supposed to be in bed in another part of the facility. He said his office was looking into how the men were able to gain access to the dayroom.
A census of the whole jail was carried out, which determined that no other inmates had escaped.
At the time of the escape, there were fewer than 10 people working at the jail, which houses “a little over 800 detainees,” the sheriff said. To have every position optimally covered, each shift would require a staff of approximately 30 people, but the jail hasn’t had staffing levels like that for a long time, Mr. Davis said, adding that sometimes it’s as few as six or eight people.
The 43-year-old jail is “falling down on us” and the escape happened in the oldest and most rundown part of the jail, Mr. Davis said.
He said an internal investigation will determine what exactly led to the escape: “We’re going to drill down into what happened last night.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.