Six escaped inmates from Alabama prison sought
PELL CITY, Alabama (CNN) -- Alabama authorities were searching Wednesday for six inmates who escaped through an inoperative electric fence at a prison near Birmingham.
Three of the prisoners were serving time for murder, and authorities warned the public that all six should be considered dangerous.
The prisoners were discovered missing from the St. Clair Correctional Facility, about 30 miles northeast of Birmingham. A routine count conducted by prison officials Tuesday night came up short, and officials determined the missing inmates had escaped over a fence sometime between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, state Corrections Commissioner Mike Haley said.
"We've all been up all night searching for these folks. We have a very intensive search going on," Haley told Birmingham television station and CNN affiliate WBRC.
Haley said the escape from the maximum-security prison was aided by a faulty electric fence that prison officials have complained about since it was installed in 1996.
"The contractor, the provider for this fence was out of South Africa, and they contracted with a company out of California to do the maintenance, and we've just been very, very unhappy," Haley said. "We're continuing to hassle with them about getting this fence to the operative condition it should be in. But obviously, last night, it did not function as it should have functioned."
Two of the inmates -- Gary Ray Scott and O.C. Borden -- are serving life terms, with no chance of parole, for capital murder. Another inmate, Steve Murphy, is serving a life sentence for felony murder.
Another escaped convict, Jack Allred, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for robbery. Billy Gamble is serving 25 years for robbery, while James McClain is serving a 20-year term for burglary.
He said prison officials were also investigating the possibility that the men had help from someone outside the facility.
The Department of Corrections had five dog teams and a helicopter from the Alabama State Troopers searching a 15- to 20-mile radius around the prison. Troopers, police and sheriff's deputies from nearby Blount and St. Clair counties manned roadblocks around the area.
"We don't have any leads that would take us out of this area," Haley said.
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