Carjacking suspects use parts from hair clipper to escape jail, Missouri police say

A sheriff’s deputy walked into the Lincoln County jail in Troy, Missouri, on Monday night and knew something wasn’t right, authorities said.

The jail had obvious damage on the outside, possibly from an inmate escape, according to a news release from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. The deputy immediately put the jail on lockdown, and corrections officers started a headcount to determine who might be missing, the release said.

They figured out that two men accused in deadly carjackings were on the lam: 26-year-old Kurt Wallace, who’s accused of killing a St. Louis-area high school football coach, and James Flannel, 38, charged in the killing of a taxi driver during a carjacking, police said.

Both men were federal inmates being held at the jail for U.S. marshals, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Wallace and Flannel had taken parts from an electric hair clipper to fashion a makeshift saw, using it to weaken a restraining bar, according to the release. Then they pried the bar from the cell wall to make their getaway, the Sheriff’s Office said.

By the time the Sheriff’s Office said it realized inmates escaped, Wallace and Flannel already had an approximately 24-minute lead on law enforcement.

However, police took an emergency call just minutes later that would help them close the gap, according to the release.

A man who lives less than a mile from the jail called 911 to report he’d be carjacked, according to the Troy Police Department. The 58-year-old told police he was backing out of his driveway when two men asked for a ride to St. Louis, police said.

One of the men was badly bleeding from his hand and blood covered his shirt, the man later told police.

When the resident refused, the men simultaneously opened the front door, and one of them reached for the driver, police said. The man said was “scared for his life” and decided to get out, according to police.

Luckily for police, the man’s car was equipped with OnStar, allowing dispatchers to track the vehicle in “real time” as the inmates drove toward St. Louis, police said.

Cops in neighboring St. Charles County located the vehicle, police said. That’s when officers started to chase it, and other agencies joined when the pursuit crossed into St. Louis County, police said.

The driver then crashed the vehicle, flipping it all the way over, photos show. The occupants fled and tried to escape on foot, but officers quickly caught them, police said.

The two men were then taken to a hospital, where detectives confirmed they were the inmates who escaped, police said.

Wallace and Flannel were out of jail for about an hour from the time they escaped to when officers captured them, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Both men were charged with tampering, and their bond was set at $100,000 cash only, police said.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office says it will study the jail’s security.

“As a routine practice, an in-depth policy review is being conducted to include enhancements of facility security,” officials said.

Related stories from Biloxi Sun Herald

Chacour Koop is a Real-Time reporter based in Kansas City. Previously, he reported for the Associated Press, Galveston County Daily News and Daily Herald in Chicago.