Georgia prison escapees still on the lam after fleeing Bibb County facility: What to know

Georgia prison escapees still on the lam after fleeing Bibb County facility: What to know

Krystal Nurse
 USA TODAYplayShow CaptionHide Caption#videoDetailsToggle{color:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));cursor:pointer;display:inline-block;font-family:var(–sans-serif,sans-serif);font-size:var(–type-7);font-weight:var( –font-weight-bold,900);line-height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);margin-bottom:-8px}#vdt_hide{margin-bottom:10px}.vdt-flex[hidden]{display:none}.vdt-svg{fill:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}‘We want to catch these guys,’ sheriff says after four inmates escapeBibb County Sheriff held a press conference to answer questions after four inmates escaped overnight from the county jail.McClatchy – Macon Telegraph

Georgia law enforcement continues to search for four inmates they said escaped from a detention center five days ago.

The four men reportedly escaped from a second-story window and cut a fence at the Bibb County Detention Center in Macon, Georgia, early Monday. The detention center is about 84 miles southeast of Atlanta.

Bibb County Sheriff David Davis identified the four inmates as Joey Fournier, Marc Kerry Anderson, Johnifer Dernard Barnwell, and Chavis Demaryo Stokes.

David Rogers, brother of Cynthia Lynn Berry, who Fournier is accused of killing, told USA TODAY he is angry the public wasn’t notified until about seven hours after the inmates broke out of jail. He said his family didn’t directly hear from the sheriff’s office until Thursday, four days after the escape.

“The first time they reached out was 24 hours ago and they offered an apology for us not knowing about his escape,” he said. “I’m grateful that it’s getting national exposure.”

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately return USA TODAY’s request for comment on Friday.

A total of $73,000 in reward money is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the four men, the sheriff’s office announced on Facebook, according to a post on Wednesday.

“Everyone from the Bibb Sheriff’s Office and our law enforcement partners is focused on recapturing these fugitives,” Davis said in the post. “We ask that anyone having information about these wanted individuals to make the call and help us bring these escapees back to jail.”

How did the inmates escape the jail?

Jail staff reviewed video footage they said showed the four men escaped from a broken second-floor window and ran through a break in the fence. Staff found a break in the perimeter fence at around 6 a.m., Davis said.

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Video footage also showed a blue Dodge Challenger outside the jail earlier in the night, and appeared to show an individual tampering with the fence, Davis said. The person then brought “some items into the enclosed area of the fence,” the sheriff said. Authorities believe the items were used to help the inmates escape.

It was not clear whether the four men left the jail in the vehicle seen on the video footage, got into another vehicle, or left on foot, according to Davis. The blue Dodge Challenger, however, is believed involved in the escape and police are on the lookout for the vehicle.

Escapees accused of homicide, gang membership

Fournier, 52, was in jail pending trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend. An indictment accused him of strangling Cynthia Lynn Berry with a shoelace on Feb. 20, 2022. He’s pleaded not guilty.

Anderson, 25, had been held in jail since 2020 awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault for allegedly firing a gun into a car and two homes, according to Bibb County Superior Court records.

Barnwell, 37, was serving a 15-year concurrent sentence for aggravated assault and violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. He was facing additional charges related to a separate drug case.

Stokes, 29, was awaiting trial on charges of possession of a firearm and drug trafficking. He also was accused of supplying illicit items to inmates in February 2020; misdemeanor theft and obstruction charges in July 2021; and this past year, of obstruction, misdemeanor battery and giving or having prohibited items by inmates, according to court records.

Anderson, Fournier and Stokes face a felony charge for escaping from the prison and state warrants are issued for their arrest, according to newly issued FBI wanted posters. Barnwell faces unlawful flight to avoid prosecution and escape, both felonies. A federal warrant was issued for Barnwell’s arrest, according to the FBI’s wanted poster.

Sheriff says county needs a new jail

Davis said Monday the dayrooms are sometimes not locked at night when inmates are supposed to be in bed in another part of the jail.

At the time of the escape, Davis said there were fewer than 10 people working at the jail which currently has about 800 detainees. According to the sheriff, about 30 people should be working a shift at the jail but they haven’t had staffing levels in that range for a “long time.”

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Davis added that short staffing isn’t the only issue at the facility. The escape also occurred in the oldest and most rundown part of the jail, Davis said.

“We need a new jail,” the sheriff said, describing the jail as a 43-year-old facility that is “falling down on us.”

Rogers, whose sister Fournier is accused of killing, said he wants to get Fournier transferred to a more secure facility.

“Why do you keep criminals that are unsafe for society in an area that old and unguarded,” he asked.

What do the escapees look like?

Davis said investigators have no reason to believe the men had associations with each other outside the jail.

“They could be anywhere,” the sheriff said. “But how long they stay together or even if they’re together at this point: We don’t know.”

FBI Atlanta Public Affairs Specialist Jenna Sellitto confirmed to USA TODAY the men are still missing. The men are described as:

  • Fournier is a white male with gray hair and blue eyes and is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds with a tattoo of “I One.” The FBI released a wanted poster Wednesday that included a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to Fournier’s arrest. The agency said Fournier has ties to Georgia, Virginia and Arkansas in a poster.
  • Anderson is a Black male with dreadlocks who is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 165 pounds. The FBI said it is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to Anderson’s arrest. They believe he has ties to Georgia.
  • Barnwell is a Black male with braids. He is 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds with tattoos on his neck, both arms, right leg and a scar on his face. The FBI said it’s offering a reward up to $10,000 for information leading to Barnwell’s arrest. They believe he had a leadership role in the Macon Mafia Street gang and has ties to West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Ohio, according to the wanted poster.
  • Stokes is a Black male with short black hair and is 5 feet, 7 inches tall. He weighs 160 pounds. The FBI is offering a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to Stokes’ arrest, according to a wanted poster.

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