Homemade cloth rope aids St. Louis jail escape

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A “knuckle-headed corrections officer” is to blame for the escape of two men who apparently climbed down a homemade rope Friday morning to escape from a St. Louis detention center, the mayor’s chief of staff said.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Vernon Collins, 34, and David White, 33, were discovered missing just before 7 a.m., but police believe they might have been gone for 90 minutes by that time.

White was later caught at a gas station wearing what a station clerk described as a “Bruce Lee wig,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He was taken into custody about 4 p.m. after police surrounded an older-model white Cadillac at a Phillips 66 station. Collins remained at large Friday afternoon.

Collins was in jail on a charge of assaulting a law enforcement officer, while White was being held on charges of assault, burglary and property damage. Collins also is accused of overpowering a corrections officer.

Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay’s chief of staff, told the newspaper the escape was the first at the $101 million, state-of-the-art downtown jail built in 2002 and it happened when a corrections officer failed to fully investigate noises coming from the men’s cell.

Police said the inmates apparently broke out a second-story window and scaled down the front of the building using black cloth tied together with rope. A security camera mounted below the broken window appeared to have been knocked off its mount and was dangling from the building Friday morning.

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