Aunt of captured inmate charged with aiding in escape

AP News
Posted: Apr 04, 2015 6:40 PM
Aunt of captured inmate charged with aiding in escape

CHICAGO (AP) — An aunt of a convicted murderer who was captured in Chicago after a nearly three-day manhunt was charged Saturday with giving her nephew information that helped him escape from an eastern Illinois jail where she had once worked.

Authorities say Kamron T. Taylor escaped Wednesday from the Jerome Combs Detention Center in Kankakee by beating and choking a guard into unconsciousness and stealing his uniform, keys and SUV. He was captured Friday night.

His aunt Tonya Grant, who was once a guard at the jail, was charged Saturday with obstructing justice and aiding in the escape of an inmate, according to Kankakee County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Ken McCabe. Grant, 50, is accused of giving Taylor confidential security information about the detention center during a jail visit with her nephew.

The Daily Journal in Kankakee first reported the allegations against Grant.

It was not immediately clear whether she already had an attorney who could comment on the allegations. Her bond was set at $150,000.

Taylor is being held on weapons charges until he can be turned over to the Kankakee County Sheriff's Office, Chicago police said.

Taylor fled on foot as Chicago police officers responding to a call of a suspicious person approached him in the South Side neighborhood of Calumet Heights Friday night. Officers caught up with him after a few blocks and found him with a loaded handgun.

"I think I can speak for ... everyone who's been involved: tired, I guess is the word," Kankakee County Sheriff Timothy Bukowski told reporters Saturday in summing up the frenzied search for the fugitive.

Taylor, 23, escaped after lying in wait for a guard making 3 a.m. rounds and then attacking him. Wearing the guard's uniform, Taylor fooled officers in a master control room into buzzing him through three security doors before driving off. He ditched the SUV a few miles away. Authorities haven't pieced together how he got to Chicago, but they say he does have connections to the area.

Taylor was awaiting sentencing for shooting 21-year-old Nelson Williams Jr. in the head during a June 2013 robbery attempt on his front porch. He also made a run for it moments after hearing the guilty verdict in his February murder trial, as well as when he was first arrested for the killing.

He will certainly face additional charges, possibly including attempted murder for the attack on the guard, Bukowski said.

"We ... believe that Mr. Taylor believed that he had killed the correctional officer by strangling him," the sheriff said.

Investigators are still trying to determine exactly how security broke down at the decade-old jail, where budget cuts had recently reduced staff numbers. Remaining personnel were forced to work double shifts in a change that did not go unnoticed by the 450 inmates, the sheriff said.

"We do not believe that at lockdown he went into his cell," Bukowski said. "And that's where the big mistake happened, that someone missed that."

He said it was too early to say how that was overlooked, while promising that changes would prevent a future mistake.

"If there was intent to let him out, that's one thing," Bukowski said. "If it was just they got complacent because they've been working so many hours, that's another issue."

Investigators believe the gun Taylor was found with belonged to the injured guard.

Police in Chicago initially identified Taylor as the fugitive based on a tattoo on his neck and later through fingerprint matches.