Search For Escaped Inmate Spreads To Several Counties


UPDATED: Wednesday February 22, 2012 7:55 PM

The man that escaped from a Lancaster jail on Monday evening was sentenced to six years in prison for a conviction involving a sexual assault, 10 Investigates’ Paul Aker reported on Wednesday.

Jeremiah Searles is a registered sex offender for the crime, which is called Deviate Sexual Assault in Missouri, the state where he was convicted in 2005.

According to police documents that 10 Investigates obtained from St. Joseph, Mo., Searles, 31, entered his roommate’s room where his roommate’s girlfriend was staying, and he exposed himself, pulled her clothes off, pushed her to the ground and raped her.

Police later found blood stains on the floor where the crime happened, Aker reported.

At the time of his escape this week, Searles was being held at the minimum security Fairfield County Jail annex, located at 5955 Revenge Rd. near the Southeastern Correctional Institution, on falsification charges and a felony warrant for probation violation in connection with the Deviate Sexual Assault charge, 10TV's Kevin Landers reported.

Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jerry Perrigo said that Searles may have used the jail’s deficiencies to aid in his escape.

“We have one deputy watching,” Perrigo said. “Twenty-four prisoners go out the door, and only 23 come back in.”

Perrigo said that he believed Searles failed to return inside following a recreation break and hid on the property until nightfall before scaling the fence. Evidence showed that Searles used socks to protect his hands from the razor wire that lined the top of the fence. Pieces of clothing were found stuck to a portion of the wire.

Investigators said that they thought Searles had help leaving the jail, but it was not clear if there was a car waiting for him in the parking lot or if he ran through the woods before meeting someone, Landers reported.

“There’s no indication whatsoever this was an inside job,” Perrigo said.

Jail officials on Wednesday added new surveillance cameras to the roof and telephone poles outside the jail annex, Landers reported.

Searchers have been in contact with family members and others who know Searles to determine the direction in which he might be traveling.

Investigators said that a K-9 search of the woods surrounding the annex turned up no sign of Searles.

Perrigo said that Searles’ whereabouts were unknown, but he did not expect that to last long, Landers reported.

“We are working every tip we can,” Perrigo said. “This is our top priority for this department, without a doubt.”

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call 740-652-7911.

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