From left: Angel Castrejon, Johnny Nunez, Curtis Apodaca, Malcolm Hoffert. Only Castrejon remains at large.
A fourth jail escapee is back behind bars. The La Junta Police Department confirmed Angel Castrejon has been arrested after escaping from the Otero County jail Tuesday night.
Three other inmates who escaped with Castrejon were caught Wednesday.
Only 11 News talked to a former jailer who says she is not surprised about the escape.
She had quite a few safety concerns. The woman says a lot of the inmates know about how easy it is to escape from the jail. Now, she wants the public to know so something will hopefully get done about it.
She agreed to talk with us but didn't want to be identified.
On a hand-drawn layout of the jail, the former Otero County jailer explains where she thinks the fight with the deputy took place.
"We would bring in the inmates in here [referencing on layout], and it probably happened within one of these sides.”
After that fight, four inmates escaped and a massive manhunt got underway. She also talked about what concerned her most about the jail.
“We were in contact with the inmates. If they had problems and they needed to be pulled out of jail and had to be talked to, it was one-on-one. They weren't restrained."
She says another big problem is that one of the doors that leads from the jail to a garage is never locked.
"That should be locked at all times. It was never locked the whole time I worked there. It's an easy route out to the garage door. They see us touch the garage door button and open it. They knew where it was at. It was easy access."
This employee says she brought up her concerns with the sheriff's office, but when nothing was done about it, she quit.
“There was so much that needed to be changed while I was there that I presented, and all I would get is a smile, and ‘we'll look into it.’”
This is the second jail break in less than a year at this jail. The inmate who broke out last time is the same inmate who remains on the run.
All four inmates were initially in jail waiting to go to trial on separate cases. Their charges ranged from burglary to drugs to fraud.
UPDATE: Johnny Nunez, 30, was taken into custody shortly after noon. Authorities thank all the law enforcement for their efforts throughout the night and into Wednesday for bringing these men into custody so quickly.
Angel Castrejon, 23, is the only inmate still at large.
UPDATE: The La Junta fire chief confirmed at noon that the name of the second inmate captured late Wednesday morning is Malcolm Hoffert, 22. His capture was confirmed around 11:30 a.m.
UPDATE: The La Junta fire chief confirms at 10 a.m. Wednesday that 21-year-old Curtis Apodaca has been caught and is back in custody. How and where he was caught has not been released. The other three suspects are still on the run.
A trail of footprints and discarded clothing are the only trace of four inmates after authorities say they broke out of jail Tuesday night.
The Otero County sheriff say "50 boots" have been on the ground all night long searching for 30-year-old Johnny Nunez, 23-year-old Angel Castrejon, 22-year-old Malcolm Hoffert and 21-year-old Curtis Apodaca.
According to authorities, the inmates got out around 8 p.m. after first rushing a detention officer, then fighting with a second deputy. Both sustained minor injuries. The inmates then fled the facility heading north, shedding some of their clothing as they crossed nearby rail yards.
Law enforcement have searched along the Arkansas River, and followed a trail of footprints before losing them amid rough terrain. Based on the prints, some of the inmates are barefoot, while others are wearing flip flops.
The Otero County Sheriff's Office says aviation assets from Buckley Air Force Base are expected to assist with the search Wednesday now that the sun is up.
11 News has looked into their backgrounds, and has learned the inmates were being held in the county jail awaiting court dates on unrelated cases at the time of their escape. Castrejon was facing charges for drug related offenses, escape and bond violation. Nunez currently was facing charges for burglary and forgery. Apodaca was facing charges for drug related offenses and being an accessory to a crime. Hoffert was currently facing motor vehicle theft charges.
The National Guard, the Otero County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Corrections are the primary agencies searching for the inmates. Sheriff Chris Johnson is confident the men will be found.
"At some point we're going to catch them--even if it's not today," he said Wednesday morning.
The sheriff said there are good hiding spots in the La Junta area, but said air assets will be able to use infrared technology to pick up the men's heat signatures.
A reverse emergency notification was sent to residents living in the area about four hours after the escape. The La Junta School Board says all schools are on a modified lockdown Wednesday. This means operations will go on as normal inside the school, but outside movement for students will be restricted. Visitation to the school will also be restricted.
11 News has a crew in La Junta Wednesday, and will continue to update this story with the latest developments as new information becomes available.
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