MURRAY COUNTY, Okla. - The Murray County Sheriff’s Office is apologizing for a serious breakdown in communication after an inmate escaped from jail.
31-year-old Brandon Evans was captured shortly after midnight, but was on the run for hours in Murray County before residents and tourists were notified.
Some were worried the Murray County Sheriff's Office was hiding something, but lifelong members of the community as well as the sheriff himself have an explanation.
Owner of Momma D’s, Darlene Smith says, "The main thing is they caught him and that's all that matters."
Chances are if you were in a local Sulphur diner or hair salon Wednesday, you knew to be on the lookout for Evans.
"Word of mouth spreads real fast in a little town,” says Smith. “Everybody comes in and says did you hear what happened?”
But there was no official word from law enforcement, leaving some wondering if they were hiding something?
"No that's not the case at all,” says Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shelly Sawatzky.
The local Chamber of Commerce says they work closely with law enforcement to keep things safe for visitors but there were several out-of-town campers, who had no clue what was going.
"We don't have the resources Oklahoma City or Tulsa or even some of the smaller cities have,” says Sawatzky.
It appears the person responsible for alerting the public was busy chasing the escapee.
Sheriff Darrell Richardson did not want to go on camera, but apologizes for the lack of communication.
Richardson says: "They are re-evaluating how they get information to the public beyond word of mouth, and they weren't trying to hide anything but did want to stay discreet as the inmate grabbed a jailer's smartphone before he took off. They are a small organization that would love to get the information out as quickly as possible but their main goal was getting the inmate back in their custody.”
Despite what happened, local officials hope these campers come back.
“I would not let this deter you from your vacation plans,” says Sawatzky. “Rest assured that our law enforcement officials and our first responders in Murray County and in Sulphur and in the national park all have your best interest, all of those agencies have your best interest and your safety at heart.”
Richardson also wanted to explain the unsecured crime scene our crew found yesterday. It was where Evans crashed the stolen car.
He says the scene had already been processed and they just needed a wrecker to pick it up.