Search continues for escaped felons - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Search continues for escaped felons

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Source: Louisiana State Police Source: Louisiana State Police
Ricky Wedgeworth Ricky Wedgeworth
Darian "Drake" Peirce Darian "Drake" Peirce

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The search continues for two men who escaped from the Louisiana State Police headquarters in Baton Rouge Friday afternoon.

Authorities have indicated they now have a lead on where the inmates may be located. Troopers reported Ricky Wedgeworth, 36, of Tennessee and Darian "Drake" Peirce, 33, of Bogalusa were first missed at 4:15 p.m. They stole a state-owned van and took off.

Officials said their leads are directing them towards the Memphis area, which is where Wedgeworth is from. However, they are also searching around Picayune, MS, Natchitoches, LA and Many, LA.

"Detectives worked through the weekend," said Trooper Russell Graham with LSP. "We got the U.S. Marshal's Task Force on board and one of the new tips points to Memphis."

Graham added the stolen white van was found near Baton Rouge on Friday and authorities believe the escapees found another way to get out of state, if that's where they are.

"We have two investigations. The parallel with the criminal is the administrative side to look at our policies and look at what we can do and how we handle the trustee program," Graham explained.

Both men are trustees, meaning they are still inmates, but are allowed to leave prison to work while still in custody. The Department of Corrections operates the trustee progam, which gives inmates a chance to work under supervision, but different jurisdictions have different rules. The Louisiana State Police has 182 trustees in the Baton Rouge area.

There are rules about who can become a trustee. Criminals with a sex offense or a drug charge on their record are not eligible. Habitual offenders also don't qualify.

Both Wedgeworth and Peirce were serving 25-year sentences. Wedgeworth was convicted of armed robbery in 2006. Peirce was convicted of attempted second-degree murder in 2009.

"All of the policies are being looked at. If Louisiana State Police sees things that need to be changed, we will do it," Graham added.

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