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Innovative Use of Peanut Butter by Alabama Prisoners

by David M. Reutter

When prisoners tire of the same fare they are given to eat, day after day, they become creative to make it more palatable. A dozen pre-trial detainees at the Walker County Jail (WCJ) in Alabama, for example, found a new way to use peanut butter – they turned it into an escape tool.

The crafty July 30, 2017 escape from WCJ involved prisoners ages 18 to 30; they faced charges ranging from disorderly conduct and domestic violence to drug possession and attempted murder.

A new guard who was overseeing about 140 detainees while working in the control room at WCJ was faulted for making a “human error,” said Sheriff James E. Underwood. “The young man, he was a weak link and they knew it ... that’s it in a nutshell.”

Presumably no pun was intended.

“They changed the number over the [cell] door with peanut butter” to match a door to the outside, the sheriff continued. “[Then] they hollered, ‘Hey, open door’ so-and-so, but [the number] was the outside door. And unknowingly to him, he hit that lock and out the door they went.”

The escape plan included throwing blankets over a 15-foot perimeter fence covered with razor wire. Nonetheless, several of the escapees suffered cuts; one was hospitalized with a deep cut to his thumb, Underwood said.

Within eight hours, 11 of the prisoners had been recaptured. The only one to get out of the county was Brady Andrew Kilpatrick, 24, who was in WCJ on charges of possessing drugs and paraphernalia.

Shortly after he absconded from the jail, Kilpatrick called his sister, Jensen Davis Lefan, 18, to ask for a ride. She and her boyfriend, Hayden T. Mayberry, 24, borrowed a car from Mayberry’s roommate and picked up Kilpatrick. They fled to Florida, buying food with cash and sleeping in a Walmart parking lot.

Authorities in Tequesta, Florida noticed a car with an Alabama license plate parked at the home of a friend of the trio. “Let’s suffice it to say we had an overwhelming force and more than adequate resources as he made the unwise decision of trying to escape out of the house,” said Martin County Sheriff William D. Snyder.

The prisoners who fled now face escape charges. Lefan and Mayberry were charged with facilitating escape and hindering apprehension of a fugitive in Alabama, plus charges of aiding and abetting a fugitive in Florida.

Sheriff Underwood blamed the situation on a mistake and manipulative detainees. “We got some evil people down here,” he said. “And they scheme all the time to con us and our employees here at the jail. You have to stay on your toes. This is one time we slipped up. I’m not going to make any excuses. It was a human error that caused this to happen.”

Officials did not mention whether the prisoners used smooth or chunky peanut butter to facilitate their escape.

“They love peanut butter sandwiches,” Underwood noted.


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