2 murder suspects escape from Texarkana jail

Monday, May 28, 2012 - 12:14pm

Two suspects awaiting trial on murder charges used a hacksaw to escape from an Arkansas jail early Monday, authorities said.

Staff at the Miller County Jail in Texarkana, Arkansas, discovered the two detainees missing about 4 a.m. Monday, said county dispatcher Vanessa Schaeffer.

A search of the cell showed that Cortez Rashod Hooper, 23, and Quincy Vernard Stewart, 36, had apparently used the hacksaw to cut through metal bars covering a 1-foot-by-3.5-foot window, then broke the glass to gain access to an outside courtyard, she said. Two mattresses were pushed through the broken window in an effort to soften the detainees' landing, Schaeffer said.

Authorities are unable to determine, however, how the two managed to get outside a 10-foot fence topped with razor wire, she said. A police K-9 unit was brought in but failed to track the men.

Hooper, who is about 5 feet tall and weighs 130 pounds, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault, she said. Stewart, who is 5-foot-7 and weighs 169 pounds, was being held on a capital murder charge from Bowie County, Texas, and also is charged with possession of a controlled substance, Schaeffer said.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Duke Schofield said authorities do not know how the two got a hacksaw inside the jail. "It's under investigation," he said. "We're asking ourselves the exact same question."

"The only videotape we have is showing them running along the fence line outside the fenced-in area," he said. "We have no substantial leads to pass on to the state police at this time. We don't have anything concrete to go on right now."

Local and national authorities have been notified, Schofield said.

Members of the public who might see the two men are asked to contact authorities and not approach the suspects, Schaeffer said.

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