9 inmates escape South Dakota women's jail after coronavirus case; at least 1 caught

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Nine female inmates from a minimum-security unit of a South Dakota jail escaped on Monday night after a separate prisoner tested positive for coronavirus.

The inmates walked out of the Pierre Community Work Center at 8:43 p.m. on Monday, officials said.

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Three of them were captured while the others remain missing as of Tuesday night, the South Dakota Department of Corrections said.

Officials originally said there were eight escapees, but Gov. Kristi Noem confirmed during a news conference that there are nine when she was asked about the escapees' exposure to coronavirus at the jail, according to reports by KOTA TV.

Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said that at least one of the captured inmates has been tested for COVID-19 but the results are not known at this time.

On March 12, the Department of Corrections suspended all in-person visitations to prison facilities throughout the state in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The identities of eight of the inmates were revealed by the department. They include Philomene Boneshirt, 25; Jordan Wakeman, 27; Sylvia Red Leaf, 25; Alice Richards, 32; Kayla Lamont, 28; Carly Schoneman, 23; Pamela Miller, 28, and Kelsey Flute, 30.

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The women now face felony escape charges that could result in a five-year prison sentence.