By Dan McDermott
Warren County Report Newspaper
The Warren County County, Virginia Jail had its first escape in years Nov. 8th when an inmate walked out of the “cage” and began a trek through town in search of cigarettes and freedom.
She had more luck bumming the smokes.
According to Jail Captain Steve Barr, Faith McHale, 36, had been brought to the jail and was handcuffed when she discovered that the magnetic door at the Jackson Street entrance had not closed.
Around 4:30 pm “she just walked out with the handcuffs on,” said Barr.
Initial reports that McHale was also wearing leg shackles proved to be untrue.
The sight of McHale walking through town with county bracelets on generated a number of calls to area dispatchers.
The woman apparently borrowed a cigarette from someone at Roy’s Express at the intersection of North Royal Ave. and Chester St. before reportedly entering a blue pickup truck headed toward South Street.
“We did not confirm the pickup,” said Barr.
Authorities converged on Main Street after receiving a call that McHale was standing next to the woodpile at Stokes Mart.
She was found there puffing away and was quickly brought back to the jail where the magnetic lock was presumably double checked.
“She was apprehended after about 15-20 minutes,” Barr said.
Barr, who has been at the Jail since 1991, said it was the first time he could recall someone actually escaping from the jail since an early 1990’s renovation that added central heating and air and sealed off inmate’s windows.
[Just prior to presstime, however, WC Report’s crack research staff reports that another female prisoner walked out of the jail about five years ago after disabling the wiring to an electronic holding cell lock near the prisoner transport entrance.]
Barr said most “escapes” are actually work release inmates who either walk off the job or simply don’t return to jail after work.
McHale was a resident of the local women’s shelter and appeared to be intoxicated during the ordeal. According to Barr, McHale was originally charged with child abuse and has now been charged with escape from the jail, where she currently resides.
Barr said the lock appears to be functioning correctly now but noted that a security company has been asked to come and check it out.
The Warren County Jail welcomes about 167 “guests” a month.
[ From the current issue of Warren County Report Newspaper. On stands now. Dan McDermott: editor [at] warrencountyreport.com ]
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