How did they escape? Investigators show how Merced County inmates broke out of jail

Local News

MERCED COUNTY, California (KSEE/KGPE) — At a news conference Tuesday, the Merced County Sheriff’s Department showed photos from inside the Merced County Jail the day the prisoners made their escape.

The images not only show how the inmates got out of the jail but according to Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke, they show that jail employees were not doing their job.

“We could see them leave the cell in the main jail and then go into the ventilation system and then they were able to make their way to the rooftop,” said Merced County Undersheriff Corey Gibson.

Photo provided by the Merced Sheriff’s Department

“You can see the ventilation system that’s been cut,” said Gibson. “That’s probably quarter-inch steel. They were able to access through there to the plumbing chase.”

Photo provided by the Merced Sheriff’s Department

Gibson said that once the inmates cut through the ventilation system to the plumbing chase, pictured above, they were able to access the HVAC unit.

Photo provided by the Merced Sheriff’s Department

Once into the HVAC unit, the inmates gained access to the roof, Gibson said.

Photo provided by the Merced Sheriff’s Department
Photo provided by the Merced Sheriff’s Department

“Our building was built in 1968, it’s in desperate need of replacement, and part of the reason they were able to get out was because the building is, for lack of a better term, falling apart,” Sheriff Warnke said. “Make no mistake the general reason they got out is because we had employees not doing their job.”

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July 23 2021 05:30 pm

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