Cotton County escapee turns self in, sheriff re-thinks trustee practice - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Cotton County escapee turns self in, sheriff re-thinks trustee practice

Walters_An inmate who walked away from the Cotton County jail over the weekend surrendered on Wednesday afternoon, bringing an end to a manhunt which started Saturday.  Terry Lynn Manuel, Jr., turned himself in to authorities at the Cotton County Courthouse.  Manuel was serving time for drug charges and assaulting a police officer before disappearing while doing some "trusty" work on Saturday night. 

Cotton County Sheriff Paul Jeffrey says Manuel's escape is leading to some changes at the jail.  He allows some of his trusted inmates to do work around the jail, such as cooking, cleaning, or - in Manuel's case - taking out the trash.  However, after his escape, Jeffrey says the practice will come to an end.

Jeffrey says that Terry Manuel is a lifelong Cotton County resident from Walters who he has known for years.  He says trusting him wasn't an issue.  The sheriff says Manuel was mechanically minded and could help out a lot around the jail, and joined other county inmates to help work on a new elevator at the courthouse.  That's where another inmate also disappeared from custody only a couple of months ago.  "He just saw an opportunity to take a walk, and he took the walk," said Jeffrey.  "He was out about 45 minutes before we got him back."

It took about four days longer for Manuel to turn himself in after bolting from the jail while taking out the trash.  The sheriff says he doesn't want to do that again.  "We're just not real comfortable letting our county boys out, because some of them are un-sentenced," he said.  "You just never know what's going through their minds."

Because of the two recent escapes, and because some inmates remain un-sentenced, Jeffrey is ending the "trusty" work by county inmates.  He says he will continue to allow Department of Correction inmates from the Walters Work Release Center to work at the jail, which has recently received a security upgrade costing nearly $50,000.  "We've got magnetic locks, we've got cameras, and we re-did our razor wire around the walk-around outside, all the doors down the halls."

Sheriff Jeffrey says Manuel was being cared for by different friends while he was on the run, but it is not yet clear if anyone will face charges for helping him during that time.  Late on Wednesday afternoon, Cotton County authorities decided to move Manuel to the Comanche County Detention Center in Lawton.  He is expected to be arraigned on the escape charges on Thursday in Lawton.

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