A 22-year-old Sharp County Jail trustee who walked off while working outside the jail Aug. 6 was found in Batesville Aug. 10.
Independence County Sgt. John Furgason noticed Brandon Larson trying to hitchhike south on Highway 167 by the White River bridge just before noon Friday, said Captain Bill Lindsey of the Independence County Sheriff's Office. Furgason, who was in an unmarked police car, stopped and offered Larson a ride.
"At first he didn't realize he was a police officer," Lindsey said. "When he got in the passenger side and realized it, he jumped out."
Larson was soon apprehended and transported to the Independence County Jail. He was later transported to the Sharp County Jail.
Furgason located Larson the day before walking to a trailer in the west side of Batesville, Lindsey said. When officers approached the trailer, Larson fled on foot, he said. Officers brought in a K-9 unit to help locate Larson but were unsuccessful. Officers later learned Larson had gotten a ride out of the area, he said.
Larson had been in the Sharp County Jail since May for auto theft charges from Izard County.
The two counties traded inmates. Izard County agreed to hold an alleged sex offender for Sharp County, while Sharp County held Larson, Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said.
Larson soon became a jail trustee, Weaver said. As a trustee, inmates are allowed to go outside and work beyond the confines of a cell washing cars, working in the garden and performing other small jobs. It was while performing one of these jobs that Larson escaped, he said.
"They pretty much have free reign," Weaver said. "They're outside all the time."
Weaver said he thinks Larson got a ride from someone who had been visiting an inmate at the jail that day.
Larson is then suspected of traveling to Ozark Acres before going to the Batesville area.
"We looked around the area here for an hour or two, but it didn't take long until we figured he probably got a ride out of here," Weaver said.
According to other trustees, Larson was last seen around 1:30 p.m., Weaver said. It wasn't until around 5 p.m. that jail personnel discovered Larson was missing.
Monday was the day for inmate friends and family to visit their loved ones in jail, which makes for a busy day at the jail, Weaver said. In addition, the jail was short staffed.
"They just didn't have as much time to check on the trustees as they normally would have," Weaver said.
Weaver said he thinks an incident that occurred during the weekend at the jail contributed to the escape.
An inmate was beaten by fellow inmates while in a jail cell, Weaver said. A jailer noticed scratches on the man's face, but the inmate told the jailer he had the scratches when he came into the jail. It wasn't until after he posted bond that authorities were notified of the assault. The man called police later that day and told them Larson had told the men to stop the assault. Once he posted bond, the man sought medical attention. He was hospitalized and had his spleen surgically removed. He is still receiving medical attention.
Larson was interviewed by Sharp County Detective Sgt. David Huffmaster earlier that day in reference to the beating.
"I don't know if he had felt somewhat responsible or what," Weaver said.
Personnel have reviewed the videotape from surveillance cameras in the jail. Although the assault was not caught on camera because individual cells do not have video cameras, police could determine which inmates entered the man's cell.
Charges are pending against the men. No names have been released.