The men escaped about 11 p.m. through a door into a plumbing mechanical area in the jail. The jail had plumbing work done Friday night and one of the workers neglected to lock a door, Emanuel County Sheriff Tyson Stephens said.
The room has a stairwell that leads to the roof, where the group broke through a second door by breaking the lock. Once on the roof, the men were able to climb down to freedom, Stephens said.
Three escapees, John Stephen Powell, 27, Dante Jamial Latimore, 27, and Eric Lashawn Barney, 32, were back in custody by 6 p.m. Sunday.
Barney had escaped from the Emanuel County jail before, in 2002, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections Web site. He was sentenced to five years for escape, on top of the five he had received for entering a vehicle. After he was released from that sentence, he was convicted of two burglaries that occurred in May of 2010, which got him 10 and 20 years, respectively.
“I have been chasing him around since he was 8 or 10,” Stephens said. “I’m glad to have him back.”
Matthew Shepherd Findley, 24, was being held on murder and felony murder charges stemming from the slaying of Payton E. Collins, who was stabbed on Dec. 11. Findley was described as white, 5 feet, 7 inches tall and 140 pounds.
Cecil Dewitt Nelson, 33, was part of a three-man kidnapping ring busted by the FBI in January. Nelson pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit kidnapping in August. He and two associates were accused of two kidnappings in the Bryan County area in late 2011 and early 2012, according to a statement by the FBI. In both kidnappings, the victims were abducted at gunpoint and later released after a ransom was paid, the statement said.
Stephens said officials think Nelson has already made it back to the Savannah area. He was described as black, 5 feet, 11 inches tall and 245 pounds
The last escapee, Jeffery Rashawn Webb, is black, 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 195 pounds. His charges had not been released late Sunday.
The three were being sought by the Emanuel County Sheriff’s Office, the Swainsboro Police Department, the Georgia State Patrol and the U.S. Marshals’ Fugitive Task Force.
Anyone with information can call the sheriff’s office at (478) 237-7526. Callers’ identities will remain confidential.