Davis scribbled a note and left the interview room. He walked up to a corrections officer and passed him the note, Davis said. The officer read it and showed it to another corrections officer nearby. He then folded the note and put it in his pocket. Davis, satisfied, returned to the interview room to meet with another client. There, he waited for some sort of alarm to go off. None did. Davis left the jail 40 minutes later, wondering whether his client had lied or was mistaken.
For nearly two days, nothing happened.
Then, on Friday, the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, which oversees the state’s law enforcement agencies, issued a statement. Felon Todd Wayne Boyes, 44, of Caldwell, Ohio, had escaped the jail early Wednesday. Boyes had in fact escaped wearing civilian clothes, but the jail didn’t notice he was gone until Thursday evening. Boyes was scheduled to be sentenced Friday to as much as 20 years in prison on charges including fleeing police and possession of a stolen car. He was initially charged with attempted murder after a Charleston police officer was hurt trying to arrest him, but the charge was dropped in a September plea deal.
“Given Boyes’ criminal record, he is to be considered armed and dangerous,” department spokesman Lawrence Messina said in the statement.
Boyes was caught about 4 a.m. Sunday, authorities said. He was captured in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, near the Texas border, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Authorities said Boyes was given a medical evaluation and then taken to the Webb County Jail in Texas.
The circumstances of Boyes’s escape raise several questions about the security procedures at the jail, which allowed Boyes to walk out unnoticed and remain unaccounted for the three formal end-of-shift counts and two informal overnight counts that occurred in his absence, state officials said. To exit the jail, Boyes would have had to first leave his cell and then leave his section — a two-tier array of cells. He would then have had to exit his pod, which contains multiple sections of cells, unnoticed. Finally, he would have had to exit the central administration area and leave through the front doors, which are operated by the jail staff.
Davis had discussed the news of the jail escape with his paralegal, Jodi Fallecker, who spent Wednesday night worried about her mother, who lived near the jail. Fallecker said she called her mother several times, telling her to lock her door and asking her whether she’d received any 911 alerts. Her mother told her she hadn’t heard anything about the escape. Fallecker thought this was unusual, because neighbors usually received alerts for missing people in the area.
“This could’ve been prevented. This guy could’ve been caught sooner,” Fallecker said. “It’s just crazy. It’s just crazy that this happened.”
Messina said state prison authorities are aware of Davis’s allegations and have included them in their ongoing investigation. He also said four facility officers have been suspended without pay pending the completion of the investigation.
“As the investigation remains ongoing, further comment is not expected at this time,” he said.
Security footage reviewed as part of the jail’s investigation showed Boyes leaving the facility about 5:50 a.m. Wednesday in a pair of khaki pants and a dark green or gray zip-up jacket. Jail officials did not realize Boyes was missing until 7 p.m. Thursday, during their formal head count. The ongoing investigation is focused on whether the procedure for these counts was followed properly, Messina said. The procedure mandates a lockdown of inmates and matching them to system records, Messina said.
Boyes was arrested in February after allegedly carjacking several motorists in Ohio and then fleeing from police to West Virginia, Messina said.
Sgt. Leslie T. Goldie, a spokesman for the West Virginia State Police, told CNN that Boyes had a history of carjackings before the February 2016 incident, in which he hit a Charleston police vehicle, injuring an officer. Boyes was shot in the hand by an officer before being arrested.
Boyes pleaded guilty in late September to fleeing with reckless indifference to the safety of others, possession of a stolen vehicle and fleeing from police causing bodily injury in Kanawha County Circuit Court in West Virginia, Messina said.
The series of events is particularly confusing for Davis, who wonders why the correction officers who saw his note seemingly failed to notify jail staff about Boyes’s escape.
Davis said his client had risked his safety to report the escape, in hopes that Boyes would be caught sooner. By the time the jail began its search, Boyes had at least a 36-hour head start.
“He was telling the truth,” Davis said. “Even though my client was in jail, he worried about the public safety when the prisoner escaped. He could’ve been a hero, if they had listened to me.”