Saline County Jail Escape Surprises Commissioners

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

A convicted child murderer is back in Saline County jail after escaping on Monday.

The two-day manhunt ended Wednesday night in Wichita, but it all started in Salina. Now, county leaders are asking how it happened.

Just last week, Saline County commissioners had a chance to tour the jail. That’s why they were surprised to hear about an escape this week.

“I was very surprised that it happened, because I was impressed with the sheriff's operation,” said Saline County Commission Chairman Randy Duncan. “I was impressed with his operation, his staff and the people he has over there.”

But it was the Saline County sheriff who blamed the escape on understaffing and human error. A door to Antonio Brown’s holding cell had been left open.

“Something like this was bound to happen just because there are not enough people working,” said Sheriff Glen Kochanowski.

On Tuesday, Brown was set to be sentenced for the beating death of his girlfriend’s 14-month-old child. But on Monday, he was able to escape from the Saline County jail. This led authorities on a two-day manhunt that ended with Brown turning himself in to the U.S Marshals in Wichita.

“It’s sigh of relief,” said Saline County Sheriff’s Lt. Brent Melander. “I know the community really wanted him captured. We did, too. I know that everybody in the surrounding communities wanted him captured, and, thankfully, he was captured.”

But could that escape have been avoided? That’s what county leaders are hoping to find out in the coming weeks as the investigation unfolds. Meanwhile, a new citizen jail advisory commission is forming to address other issues in the jail.

“We're over capacity,” Lt. Melander said. “So that's something that we as a county, as a community need to look at in expanding the jail.”

As for Brown, he is in jail. Authorities continue their investigation. They have not disclosed how he got from Salina to Wichita, but say addition arrests are probable.

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