ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. – With their cell doors accidentally left unlocked, four county jail inmates escaped only to return the same night — with beer (search).
The Hawkins County Jail (search) inmates, who bought four cases of beer before returning to the jail, were charged Monday with escape and introduction of intoxicants into a penal institution, the Kingsport Times-News newspaper reported Tuesday.
"I guess they thought if they came back they wouldn't be charged with escape, but they were wrong," Sheriff Warren Rimer said.
Ridgy Dean Coleman, Jimmy Joe Stapleton, David Wayne Blizzard and David Allen Hopkins escaped Thursday night when their cell block doors were unlocked and a faulty control panel failed to alert jailers, Rimer said.
Two of the inmates walked out through a fire exit, left the door propped open with a small Bible and made a hole in the exercise yard fence. They walked to a nearby market and bought the beer.
The inmates did not raise alarm at the store because they were wearing street clothes borrowed from other prisoners. The crowded jail doesn't have enough orange jumpsuits for all of its inmates.
The sheriff pointed out that all 36 inmates on the cell block might have tried to escaped while the doors were unlocked.
"At least they came back," he said.