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Inmates who rappelled out of Arkansas jail are back in custody

by The Associated Press | December 29, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

FORT SMITH -- Authorities said they're investigating the Christmas Eve escape of two inmates who used a water hose to rappel down the side of a western Arkansas jail.

Jeremiah Slavens, 39, of Fort Smith, and Dustin Smith, 36, of Muldrow, Okla., escaped Friday from the Sebastian County jail in Fort Smith, a city near the Oklahoma border about 130 miles (210 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock. Slavens was captured later that night and Smith was captured in Oklahoma at midday Saturday, authorities said.

The pair escaped by climbing through the ceiling in one of the jail pods and then making it onto the building's roof by using an electronic tablet as a light source. They then found a water hose on the roof and used it to rappel down the side of the jail, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Sebastian County Sheriff Hobe Runion said Monday that a combination of policy violations and staff failures made the escape possible.

"There is going to be severe discipline at this point to several employees," Runion said. "It's a totally unacceptable event. I could stand up here and try and give you reasons, but there's not. There's no excuse for what happened."

Slavens was being held on charges of failing to appear in court, possession of drug paraphernalia and theft. Smith was being held on charges of violating parole, being a felon in possession of a firearm, theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both will now face second-degree escape charges, authorities said.

Print Headline: Inmates who rappelled out of Arkansas jail are back in custody

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