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Crimes of the Heart: Incarceration Collusion

by Bob Williams & G.A.Bowers

What would a woman do for her man? Run a frontend loader through a jail wall? Drive her lover out of prison in a food service truck? Murder witnesses? Smuggle in guns and drugs? Melt her lover out of prison using acid? Gun down a guard in a courthouse parking lot? Women nationwide have tried or committed these very acts of desperation.

One such violent act has led the news in a recent Tennessee case. Jennifer Forsyth Hyatte, 31, is accused of shooting and killing prison guard Wayne Cotton Morgan, 56, in the parking lot of the Roane County Courthouse in Kingston, Tennessee on August 9, 2005 while aiding her husband, George Hyatt, 34, in a brazen escape. Jennifer, a former contract nurse, met her future husband while working at the Northwest Correctional Complex in Tiptonville. Jennifer was fired in August 2004 for smuggling food to and having an illicit relationship with George Hyatte, who had escaped from authorities four times previously. The couple continued their relationship and were married in May 2005, with the wardens permission.

Thirtysix hours and 300 miles after the dramatic courthouse escape, the couple was arrested without a struggle in Columbus, Ohio. Completely divorced from the reality of the situation, Jennifer called out to her husband, Baby, baby, itll be OK! Itll be OK!

The Hyatte incident is by no means isolated. On October 2, 2004, Edward R. McDaniel, 37, escaped from the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility in Nashville with the help of DOC guard Vicki Sanford, 52, a mother of six and grandmother of seven, and Michael Moize, 30, Sanfords soninlaw, who worked in the prisons central control office. Moize provided a guards uniform to Sanford; she smuggled it into the facility and gave it to McDaniel, who wore it when he walked out of the prison during a shift change. Sanford and McDaniel were captured in Texas six days later; Sanford and Moize subsequently pled guilty and received probation. Even after her arrest, Sanford wrote McDaniel telling him she still loved him and wished theyd made it to Mexico.

A Tennessee DOC report released on June 1, 2005 found that between 2001 and 2004, 12 nurses, five counselors and 69 female guards were fired over inappropriate relationships with prisoners and thats just female employees. The numbers were a little more astounding than I thought they would be, said Warden Reuben Hodge, chairman of the committee that produced the report. As some recent examples demonstrate, these incidents occur in every state.

In Nevada, convicted robber Kenneth Jody Thompson, 24, escaped on August 25, 2005 from the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in a prison van. He was aided by Ana Christina Kastner, 40, a prison dental assistant, who had smuggled a cell phone to Thompson. Kastner received probation on felony charges in connection with the escape in March 2006, and Carolyn Thomas, another dental assistant at the Northern Nevada Corr. Center, was fired.

Last year in Riverside, California, sheriffs deputy Angela Carol Parks, 32, fell in love with accused killer George Anthony Hernandez, Jr., 28. Sixteen months of training and three years of experience at the Robert Presley Detention Center didnt prepare Parks for Hernandez. They exchanged hundreds of letters and phone calls. She wrote of her desire to climb down the walls into her babys cell and professed how much she loved him and would kill for him, reminding Hernandez that she had her toys and also was a pretty good shot. She allegedly smuggled drugs to him, and conspired to murder two witnesses in his murder case. Once caught she admitted writing the letters but claimed it was only a fantasy relationship. Parks had to face harsh reality when she was charged with conspiracy to solicit murder and jailed herself, on a $1 million bond.

On August 6, 2005, Michigan prison kitchen guard Karen Sleep, 42, smuggled Garfield Lawson III, 35, out of the Baraga Maximum Correctional Facility in a food service truck. Sleep, divorced with two adult daughters, worked with Lawson in the prison kitchen. Lawson must have had a golden rap because he convinced Sleep and Jodi Lynn Axley, 38, a prison guard, to not only have sex with him but to bust him out of prison. Lawson and Sleep were captured two days later; Sleep pled guilty on June 13, 2006 to felony charges, including attempted criminal sexual conduct for her relationship with Lawson while she was a prison employee, and awaits sentencing in July. Axley also pled guilty, and received a 58-62 month sentence for her role in the escape.

Lawsons manipulative talents, however, pale in comparison to those of Eric James Kurtz, 21, whose only tool was an intercom and his gift of gab. Last year Kurtz convinced April Becerra, 26, a civilian jail employee, to help him escape from the Bob Wiley Detention Facility in Tulane County, California with a promise of marriage. Becerra smuggled food and marijuana to Kurtz. Between them they hatched a failed hairbrained scheme that involved a power drill, extension cord, and acid to melt the jails concrete walls. Becerra was arrested on Aug. 26, 2005 following a sheriffs dept. investigation; she was charged with conspiring to help Kurtz escape and conspiring to provide him with escape tools.

On November 20, 2004, an Alaskan, Misty Hoffman, 29, mother of two children, took a different approach to bust her boyfriend, Randy Watson, 30, out of the Fairbanks Correctional Center. Misty plowed down two fences before repeatedly ramming the jail with a stolen frontend loader. Unbelievably, the jail withstood the assault. Alert police arrested her days later at a routine traffic stop. In October 2005, Misty, one of six charged in the plot, received a seven-year prison sentence with three years suspended.

Misty at least knew what she was doing. Celina Clay, 51, a Tennessee prison guard, apparently gave no thought as to what might happen when she smuggled a loaded .38 caliber Derringer into the Charles Bass Correctional Complex in Nashville in Oct. 2005. Celina gave the pistol to prisoner Clinton Osborne, who was to pass it along to Celinas lover, David Allen Lane, 33. Osborne turned out to be unreliable, however, when he opened the bag that Celina gave him and found a gun. He reported the gun the next day. Celina was fired on November 14, 2005, and Osborne and Lane were transferred to a maximum security facility.

In perhaps the best planned escape of all, Toby Young, 48, a married mother of two adult sons, smuggled John Manard, 27, a murderous carjacker, out of Kansas Lansing Correctional Facility on February 12, 2006. Young had founded the Safe Harbor Prison Dog program, which rescued dogs from animal shelters and used prisoners to train the dogs to be adoptable. Kansas Corrections spokesman Bill Miskell described Young as wellknown and wellliked. She was apparently liked well enough that seven prisoners packed Manard into a dog crate and loaded it into Youngs van, which was then waved through the front gates by trusting guards.

Toby had prepared well, gathering $10,000, two guns, hair dye and an electric razor prior to the escape. She had also bought a car and rented a storage area. Despite her preparations, the couple was caught near Chattanooga, Tennessee on February 24, 2006. In a jailhouse interview a tearful Toby was unable to explain why she had helped Manard escape. On June 1, 2006 she pled guilty in exchange for a 21-month sentence.

And on May 13, 2006, Elizabeth M. Medina, 31, a former teacher at FCI Florence, was sentenced to two months of home detention as a result of her relationship with prisoner Jesus Jesse Barrientes, an alleged leader of the Mexican Mafia. Medina admitted to having sex with her imprisoned lover from May to Sept. 2005 at the federal prison in Colorado, and became pregnant by him. She also provided him with information about another prisoner, Joe Tamayo, who had cooperated with government authorities against the Mexican Mafia during an April 2005 trial. Tomayo was later stabbed by other prisoners; the hit was allegedly ordered by Barrientes based on the information that Medina had provided.

An interesting dynamic exists between the genders. While PLN frequently reports on male guards who rape and sexually assault the women prisoners in their care, it is rare to find instances where male staff actually have relationships with the prisoners in their care or go to the lengths described above. While the above examples are dramatic, in many instances female employees simply quit their jobs with prisons and jails and marry the men they have met in prison having regular relationships.

However, it is the high profile incidents that capture the news headlines and media attention. Captain Bill Kripp of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation calls such incidents a crime of passion, a crime of the heart. These crimes of the heart, however, carry serious penalties. Jennifer Hyatte and her husband, George, are now facing the death penalty on charges of first degree murder, with trial dates set for July and August 2006. The State of Tennessee aims to truly break Jennifers heart. Sometimes, love hurts.

Sources: Associated Press, Beaumont Enterprise, Detroit Free Press, Fresno Bee, Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, Palm Beach Post, Press-Enterprise, Pueblo Chieftain, Reno Gazette-Journal, Rocky Mountain News, The Tennessean, USA Today, WVLT Channel 8.

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