ANGOLA, LA (WAFB) - A normal exercise session for inmates on the yard at Louisiana State Penitentiary became a jail break Sunday morning. According to Angola Warden Burl Cain a number of agencies and some four legged creatures proved to be too much for two prisoners.
"They had two bags of pepper, this is the other bag of pepper right here," said Cain.
Cain displayed the clothing and items found on the two inmates when they were apprehended by prison officials, just over two hours after they scaled the perimeter fence of the facility and crossed the levee bordering the Mississippi River.
"The helicopters were flying out here and they had them on the sand bar out here," said Cain.
He adds the West Feliciana Parish Sherriff's Office and Louisiana State Police aided in the search for the inmates, 49 year old Melvin Johnson a convicted rapist from Orleans Parish and 24 year old Aaron Francois, a convicted murderer from Lafayette Parish. Cain says the chase team also received unexpected assistance from a few neighbors nearby.
"They scared the cows out. They were giving us good clue right there. The cows helped the inmates didn't count on that," said Cain.
The inmates had more than 60 bags of peanuts to snack on while on the run, pepper to try and throw off the chase dogs and plenty of trash bags to use as floatation devices for the river. Cain says it was no match for a crew that routinely practices for this type of scenario.
"The cows really helped us a lot because the cows would see them and run out of the woods and the flock of ducks flew by so they scared them out of the pond and we were watching all that from the levee with a thermal imager so it was a pretty classic chase," said Cain.
A chase that ended with Johnson and Francois back behind bars and Francois nursing a gash on his leg Cain says came when he was climbing over the razor wire.
"On our watch which is 19 years we never lost one we did not catch so it's pretty hard to get away from us and we practice all the time and they looked sad and we were pretty happy," said Cain.
He adds prison officials will review the alert system in place on the interior fence of Angola.
At this point he is not sure if it was technical or human error that allowed the prisoners to make their way to the perimeter fence.