U. S. Marshals arrested fugitives Johnny Welborn Brown Jr. and Mark David Matthews Jr. Thursday afternoon at an apartment in Oklahoma City, just over 40 hours after the pair escaped from the Pontotoc County Justice Center.
Brown, 32, and Matthews, 23, were taken into custody without incident at about 4:30 p.m. by members of the Marshal Service's Fugitive Task Force who were acting on information developed during an intense investigation that began soon after the cellmates were discovered missing during a routine 5 a.m. head count Wednesday.
"We got information from individuals about where they might be," said Pontotoc County Sheriff John Christian, who traveled to Shawnee Thursday evening to meet marshals who had transported Brown and Matthews from Oklahoma City and return the pair to Ada. "I had some good people working on this with me (including Heath Miller of the Pontotoc County District Attorney's Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force), and we were following information that was provided really early on. We had an apartment number as early as (Wednesday) but we didn't have an apartment building. We found out that information (Thursday) morning and got with the U. S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. They went over there and gathered them up.
"The marshals raided four houses Wednesday night, and (Brown and Matthews) weren't at those places, so it kind of narrowed down our search today" he explained. "We're happy to get them back in custody, and we're going to make sure they don't (escape) again."
The arrestes of Brown and Matthews wrote a quick ending to an incident that began when Jerianna Lynn Kindrick, the jailer in the control room at the jail's secure housing area, allegedly opened five doors to allow the cellmates to leave the facility around midnight Tuesday. During an interview shortly after the escape, Kindrick admitted aiding the pair and said they had threatened harm to her family members who worked at another Oklahoma prison.
Christian said that before the escape he thought the jail -- which opened in May of 2010 -- was escape-proof and admitted he was hurt by Kindrick's actions.
"I was very confident when we opened the new facility that nobody would break out of it," Christian said. "I never gave a whole lot of thought that I would have staff that would intentionally let prisoners out.
"It's hurtful to say the least," he said. "I haven't slept thinking about it and about the changes I'll have to make to be sure this doesn't happen again."
In addition to the alleged involvement by Kindrick, Christian said jailers who made in-person bed checks during the night didn't check for motion in the cell occupied by Matthews and Brown, who had shaped their mattresses to appear as if they were still in their beds. As a result, the escapees had a five-hour head start before officials at the jail noticed they were gone.
"I think it's an isolated incident, but we're changing some things," Christian said. "Hopefully we won't have an opportunity for any detention officer in the future to bring anything into the jail or let anybody out.
"It's been very hard," he said. "You put trust in someone and it was misused."
Brown and Matthews were arrested on no-bond warrants, while Kindrick remained in the PCJC late Thursday. Her bond has been set at $100,000.