AP: Four inmates charged with aiding escape

By Betsy Blaney: The Associated Press

Four jail inmates who authorities say helped eight others in a brazen escape were charged Wednesday, as officials kept searching for five prisoners who remain on the loose, including a convicted murderer.

Two people close to the fugitives were also arrested.

Authorities said the four inmates, who were not among the escapees, face six charges each, including assisting escape and harboring or aiding a felon.

Also arrested were two others:

— Isodoro Salas of Albuquerque, father of escaped inmate Edward Salas. The elder Salas was arrested on a probation violation and for allegedly resisting or obstruction of officer because authorities said he didn’t cooperate with investigators.

— Asha Currie of Clovis, the mother of escapee Michael England’s child, for allegedly resisting or obstructing an officer.

Investigators believe it took the inmates seven hours to cut through the jail’s roof, apparently the culmination of a two- or three-day planning effort. They said five prisoners came from one jail pod and three from another.

Raynaldo Enriquez, an escapee who subsequently was captured, has told investigators he did the work to cut through the roof, officials said.

The escapees got out of their pods via different doors — one on the ground floor and another off a balcony on the second floor — that led to plumbing behind a shower area, officials said. The escapees then apparently climbed up the plumbing to the hole in the roof.

How the inmates obtained keys to open the pod doors, which normally are locked, was is still being investigated, said Curry County District Attorney Matt Chandler.

Also Wednesday, authorities released footage from video surveillance cameras in one of the pods that shows an inmates opening a blanket that he had draped over his shoulders. The blanket is used to block the camera’s sightline to one escapee carrying a white bag out the small door and another escapee leaving through it.

The inmate with the blanket, who was among those charged Wednesday, then retreats from the door.

Authorities said all those charged Wednesday with helping the men escape are from Clovis: Lawrence Kolek, 26; Manuel Lopez, 32; Kevyn Crane, 26; and Donald Jones, 27.

Others inmates still could face charges. “They are still attempting to see if anyone else assisted,” Chandler said.

Two of the captured escapees were caught in neighboring Texas, and one in Clovis. Officials said they are focusing searches for the remaining inmates in and around Clovis and Albuquerque and near Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas.

The eight men were discovered missing late Sunday when Clovis police noticed two people in orange jumpsuits running near the jail, Murray has said.

Among the escapees are the younger Salas, 23, a convicted murderer from Clovis and 19-year-old Larry McClendon, who was being held on an open count of murder and aggravated robbery.

Salas was sentenced to life in prison last month for the 2005 shooting of a 10-year-old Clovis boy, who was killed when shots were fired through his bedroom window as he slept. He was being held at the jail before being transferred to the state Department of Corrections.

Chandler said the television show “America’s Most Wanted” plans to feature Salas’ story on Saturday.

McClendon of Plainview, Texas, was charged with an open count of murder in March for his role in the January 2007 slaying of a secondhand store owner in Clovis.

The other at-large men and the charges against them are: Victor Sotelo, 36, of Portales, aggravated assault; England, 29, of Clovis, tampering with evidence and being a felon in possession of a firearm; and Louis Chavez, 18, Albuquerque, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, receiving stolen property and extreme cruelty to animals.