8 inmates escape from NM jail

August 25, 2008 12:50:13 PM PDT
Eight inmates, including a convicted murderer and another man charged with murder, escaped from a county jail by cutting a hole in the roof, authorities said Monday.One of the men was captured by Clovis police, but the other seven remained at large and were considered dangerous, the sheriff said.

The escape was discovered Sunday night when police saw two people in orange jumpsuits running near the jail, Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray said.

The inmates apparently used handmade tools to cut the hole in the roof near a skylight, he said.

"We have a feeling that they have split up and went different ways from finding some of the jumpsuits throughout the city," Murray said. He would not answer questions.

He told reporters the department was working on several leads, including searching an Albuquerque home and following up on a lead in Cactus, Texas.

State Police Lt. Eric Garcia said motorists also were being stopped and questioned at roadblocks on the outskirts of the eastern New Mexico town. Federal agencies, including the U.S. Marshals Service, joined the investigation, the sheriff's department said.

One of the missing inmates was identified as Edward Salas, who was sentenced to life in prison last month for the murder of a 10-year-old boy. Shots were fired through the child's bedroom window as he slept.

Salas was being held at the jail awaiting transfer to state custody, authorities said.

Another escapee, Larry McClendon, was charged with murder and aggravated robbery in the January 2007 death of a store owner.

One man, Victor Apodaca, was chased and captured by Clovis police officers, Murray said. The sheriff's office gave no details on Apodaca's record.

On July 15, a female inmate got out of the jail by hiding a food cart, the Clovis News Journal reported. She was caught seconds later after she was knocked down by a passing vehicle while trying to cross a street.

In 2006, an inmate slipped out a door and wasn't missed for two days. That inmate was later captured.