Officials: Jail escapee had help

File photo Curry County inmate Bobby Owen escaped from custody Aug. 8 while being treated at the hospital.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Bobby Owen escaped from custody Aug. 8 after investigators said his sister and girlfriend hid handcuff keys in a hospital bathroom for him.

His escape led to the dismissal of the detention officer who escorted him to the hospital, Detention Center Administrator Lois Bean said Tuesday.

Bean said the detention officer acknowledged to her he had violated policy by allowing Owen to enter the bathrooms unescorted.

“The officer admitted that he violated procedures so I had no choice but to dismiss him,” she said.

“It’s about accountability,” Bean said. “I understand that it may look bad sometimes that we’ve got high turnover (but) we’ve given them tools and the training and if they don’t use them, they’ve got to be disciplined.”

Owen, 25, was being held on multiple counts of burglary. He was taken to the hospital to be examined for injuries he said he received in a fall at the jail.

Bean says it appears Owen’s claim was part of what appears to have been a planned escape.

“We believe his injuries were intentionally self-inflicted,” Undersheriff Wesley Waller said Tuesday.

Owen was allowed to enter two bathrooms on separate occasions, each time unattended by the detention officer supervising him.

Waller said when Owen was later placed in the transport vehicle to return to the jail, he asked the detention officer to let him move from one side of the vehicle to the other.

“The detention officer opened the back door to the vehicle and Mr. Owen was then able to escape,” he said.

Owen was captured about nine hours later at a Clovis apartment by a team of local and state law enforcement.

Waller said investigators learned Savannah Owen and Estrellita Sanchez purchased then hid universal handcuff keys in the bathrooms about an hour prior to Owen being taken to the hospital.

Savannah Owen, 23, is charged with felony assisting escape and harboring or aiding a felon.

Sanchez, 22, is charged with assisting in an escape and conspiracy to commit a felony.

While Bean acknowledged she is working to resolve issues at the facility, she said incidents are inherent to a jail.

“I wish I could tell (people) that there are not going to be any escapes, there are not going to be any incidents, but in the real world this is a jail,” Bean said.

“They’re thinking about how to get over on us twenty-four seven.”