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2nd inmate escapes Sonoma County jail, returns next day

Just days after an inmate escaped from a work crew at the North County Detention Facility, jail officials are having to re-evaluate their security measures after a second detainee bolted out of jail.

Jesse Eagle Wilmes, who turned himself in a day later, fled Saturday as a laundry van was exiting the detention facility through a security gate, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. After seeing the van pulling out of the detention facility, Wilmes, 37, burst through an emergency-exit door in his housing unit, ran through the gate and climbed over another fence before reaching his short-lived freedom, Assistant Sheriff Randall Walker, who oversees the county’s detention operations.

He said deputies figured out “within seconds” Wilmes had escaped the minimum-security housing unit after an alarm went off.

“But they weren’t able to get to the inmate as fast as he had fled,” Walker said, adding that deputies “performed very well” in their response.

Detectives searched various places throughout the county, hoping to capture Wilmes, sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cecile Focha said. But it remains unclear where he went after his escape, she added. He returned to jail on his own accord Sunday and is expected to be arraigned Tuesday on a jail-escape charge.

Wilmes was serving time at the facility after he was sentenced in March for felony grand theft of a motor vehicle, knowingly receiving stolen property, drug possession and probation violation, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He had been sentenced to five years in jail, but the court later reduced it to two years, Focha said

Wilmes was the second inmate to escape in a week from the facility, located near the county’s airport.

Zephyr Malik Carter, 41, ran away July 28 while working in the jail’s garden. He was serving a 2-year, 8-month sentence after an April arrest for his part in an identity-theft scheme that involved making bogus credit cards in a Rohnert Park hotel room and then using the fake cards at various businesses, including the Graton Resort and Casino, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Unlike Wilmes, Carter still remains at large.

Walker said they’ll continue to vet their procedures and response as they do after every emergency and escape.


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