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Prison: Ark. escapees captured in New York state

Tuesday, June 2, 2009 ~ Updated 4:32 PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- A pair of convicted murderers who escaped from an Arkansas prison wearing guard uniforms made at the facility were captured Tuesday afternoon after a trooper tried to stop their car for speeding in New York state.

A prisons spokeswoman said the two were in the same car that had been left for them at the Cummins Unit prison about 90 miles southeast of Little Rock last Friday night. Spokeswoman Dina Tyler said a New York state trooper tried to stop the men for speeding. Both were caught after the car crashed and the two tried to run away. No one was hurt.

Calvin Adams and Jeffrey Grinder were captured near Hornell, N.Y., about 90 miles southeast of Buffalo.

According to The Evening Tribune in Hornell, a city of 9,000, the chase reached high speeds and stretched over at least 20 miles in Allegany County in rural western New York, just north of the Pennsylvania state line. The men were captured after a brief foot chase in Hornell after they jumped from the slow-moving car, the newspaper reported.

The car bearing Missouri tags, with the key still in the ignition, coasted a short distance and hit a street sign, the newspaper said. No one was hurt in the chase, it said.

State and local police declined to provide immediate comment.

Arkansas Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler said the last confirmed sighting of the convicted killers was Monday night in Michigan before they were spotted Tuesday by a New York state trooper.

"That turned out to be the car everyone was looking for," Tyler said.

Neither of the men were armed when they were caught by police, Tyler said. The state planned to begin extradition proceedings to bring them back to Arkansas and Tyler said officials hoped to bring them back within days if the pair doesn't fight extradition.

Earlier Tuesday, Arkansas State Police said they had arrested three people over the weekend suspected of providing the car to the inmates to help with their escape.

Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said Tuesday that police arrested Deana Davison and Ryan McKinney, both of Little Rock, and Michael Stephenson of Jacksonville. The three were arrested and charged Saturday with furnishing an implement for escape, a felony, Sadler said.

Sadler would not say if police believe others may have helped the killers escape the unit.

"I can tell you that there is a continuing investigation that is including interviews with other individuals," Sadler said.

McKinney and Stephenson were both being held at the Lincoln County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond. Bond was set at $25,000 for Davison, who was taken to the Jefferson County Jail.

Five Correction Department officers have been put on unpaid leave while the department investigates the escape. The five officers have not been identified, but a spokeswoman for the department has said they had been guarding the entry and exit points of the prison

Among the jobs for inmates at the Cummins Unit is making uniforms for jail guards and law officers. Video surveillance shows the men put the uniforms on in the prison library after the 6 p.m. headcount and walked out of the prison unchallenged during a shift change less than 20 minutes later, Tyler said.

Grinder and Adams drove away in a car that was left for them.

Tyler said on Monday that the pair had been spotted in Michigan northwest of Kalamazoo. Adams has relatives in Michigan, including his mother, but Tyler said it wasn't his mother who reported seeing the fugitives.

Officers in Michigan searched an area and tracking dogs picked up a scent, which they lost at a paved road.

Grinder, 32, and Adams, 39, were each convicted of capital murder and were serving life sentences without parole.

Tyler said Tuesday that none of three arrested was a current or former Correction Department employee. She said the department's investigation into how the escape occurred was continuing.

Tyler says the men were spotted Saturday in two southeast Missouri communities, Hayti and Braggadocio.

Tyler said she didn't know if either man had family or friends in New York, or whether that was their final destination.

"I'm not sure they had a final destination," Tyler said.

Tyler said the department is investigating how the inmates obtained the uniforms and were able to leave the prison without anyone noticing something was amiss.

Tyler said that inmates who work in the garment factory are searched upon entering and leaving the building, which is separate from the prison facility.

Adams is from Leachville and was convicted of capital murder in 1995 in the 1994 kidnapping and shooting death of banker Richard Austin, 25. Austin's wife was wounded and was able to walk more than a mile for help. Grinder is from Yellville and was convicted of capital murder, aggravated robbery and burglary in the 2003 beating death of Pat Gardner, 77, who lived near Springdale.

Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday called the escape "inexcusable" and said he was waiting on the department's investigation on how it occurred. He said he was sure there would be some ramifications.


Associated Press Writers Ben Dobbin in Rochester, N.Y., and Jill Zeman Bleed in Little Rock contributed to this report.


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