History repeats itself at jail

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 8, 2002

An inmate at the Freeborn County Jail escaped early this morning.

Friday, February 08, 2002

An inmate at the Freeborn County Jail escaped early this morning.

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A passerby saw an inmate sliding down the side of the Law Enforcement Center building on a string of sheets and reported it to the police at 1:39 a.m., the sheriff’s office said.

The escapee is Jason Patrtick Tope, 26.

Though the sheriff’s office searched the entire area surrounding the jail, using helicopters and a trackign dog, he is still at large as of 9 a.m. Friday.

Tope is a white male, 6-feet and 4-inches tall, and weighs about 185 pounds.

According to the investigation, Tope removed the window in his cell and slid down to the street using a rope made out of sheets and blankets.

There were three jailers on duty at the time of the escape. Sheriff Don Nolander said that a jailer saw Tope in his bed around 1:25 a.m. and found nothing unusual.

The window was 9.5 inches wide and 27 inch tall.

Tope used a part of a crutch to pry open the window. Tope was allowed to have the crutch in the cell by a doctor for his bad leg.

The jail was on the third floor of the Law Enforcement Center. The height of the window from the street was more than 25 feet.

Tope was accommodated in one of three solitary cells in the medium security zone, all of which has a small window. The maximum security cells do not have direct access to a window.

Last November, Tope was arrested for producing methamphetamine in the garage of his residence at 205 Giles Place, Albert Lea. He was charged with manufacturing meth, and bail was set at $100,000.

Nolander attributes the escape to the jail congestion. &uot;The last night we had 46 inmates for our 38 recommended capacity limit. If Tope was in the maximum security cell, this wouldn’t have happened,&uot; he said. According to Nolander, there were six maximum security cells, but all of them were occupied by other inmates.

It is the second escape from the Freeborn County Jail in the last two years. On July 23, 2000, three minimum-security inmates broke a window and climbed down using bedsheets. One was injured during the escape and apprehended immediately; another was caught a day later, and the third was also eventually arrested and charged for the escape.