Dougherty gang jailbreak plot foiled in Colorado

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 27, 2012 9:03 PM
Dougherty gang jailbreak plot foiled in Colorado

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A daring jailbreak planned by one of three Florida siblings accused in a multistate crime spree was thwarted when officers at a Colorado lockup where the trio are being held uncovered the plot, authorities said on Friday.

Dylan Stanley Dougherty was accused of having stashed a homemade knife in his cell as part of a plot to escape from the Huerfano County jail through a plumbing duct and then bust out his sister, according to an arrest affidavit.

Dougherty, 26, was charged with conspiracy to escape and possession of contraband in addition to the attempted murder charges lodged against him and his siblings for a high-speed chase and shootout with police last summer.

Dougherty and his siblings, Lee Grace and Ryan Dougherty, are being held on $1.2 million bond each.

The trio were arrested in southern Colorado last August following a nationwide dragnet after they were named as suspects in the attempted shooting of a Florida police officer and a Georgia bank robbery.

But an escape plot unraveled during a January 10 routine search of jail cells, police said. Officers said they found an 8-inch knife under Dylan Dougherty's bunk and discovered that an access hatch to the jail pod's plumbing system had been tampered with.

A female deputy shimmied through the hatch and saw footprints leading to the female prisoners' pod, where Dylan Dougherty had apparently delivered a letter to his sister, which investigators later found.

"The letter stated for Lee to have all her personal belongings ready, and that Dylan was going to get in through the ceiling to the control room where the detention staff are, and drop down on them," the affidavit said.

"He stated that he would then tie them up and take the keys from them, and then they would just walk out," it added.

The siblings were captured after they crashed a stolen car following a running gunbattle with pursuing police officers near Walsenburg, Colorado. Grace Lee Dougherty was shot and wounded by a police officer when she leveled a machine pistol at him.

Investigators also said they found taunting letters to the FBI and jail staff, the affidavit said. In letters addressed to law enforcement, Dylan Dougherty wrote to his jailers, "I have enjoyed staying here, so don't take this personal."

In a separate letter to the FBI, he told them he would be "long gone" by the time they read the missive, and gave details of his escape plan, the affidavit said.

He was transferred from the Huerfano County jail to a neighboring county lockup after the plot was uncovered, officials said.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Cynthia Johnston)