Published November 20, 2014
One of three siblings who was part of a multistate crime spree and nationwide manhunt planned to escape from a Colorado jail with his sister, telling the FBI in a letter that he had enjoyed his stay, authorities said in a document released Friday.
Dylan Dougherty, 26, got out of his cell in Walsenburg, Colo., and wrote a note to his sister telling her he was going to break her out of jail, officials said. Dylan Dougherty is now being held at the Pueblo County Jail, some 45 miles north of the jail in Walsenburg where he was being held, along with his two siblings.
Dougherty's attorney, Cobea Becker did not immediately return phone messages.
During a Jan. 10 search, deputies found a homemade knife and letter to the FBI in his cell, according to an arrest affidavit.
Deputies also discovered that a panel in Dougherty's cell that allows access to the plumbing had been tampered with, as had the insulation just inside. A deputy followed the plumbing to the ceiling and discovered footprints in there, and in the female section of the jail, a letter addressed to his sister, Lee Grace Dougherty, 29, who was being held in that area.
Dylan Dougherty told his sister he planned to subdue the guards, steal their keys and escape with her. The note stated that when the FBI received the letter, he would be long gone from the Huerfano County Jail and he would leave the tools he used to escape behind, authorities said.
"I have enjoyed staying here, so don't take any of this personal," investigators quote the note as saying.
The letter to his sister said she should "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," according to the affidavit. "He stated he would then tie them up and take the keys from them, and then they would just walk out."
Dylan Dougherty's was able to move around so freely in the ceiling that he was able to pass the note to his sister. Deputies discovered the note in the pod where she is being held, Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman said.
"He's the first one who has ever gotten into one (an access panel)," Newman said. "All you can do is go from cell to cell. You can't escape from there."
Newman said the ceiling bumps into cinderblocks. As for Dougherty's plan to drop down into the control center, Newman said that area is enclosed by cinderblocks and not accessible from the ceiling.
"We've repaired the access panel and double locked them," Newman said.
The Doughertys and their brother, Ryan Dougherty, 22, were captured in southern Colorado on Aug. 10 after a chase, capping a nationwide search. All three had been held at the tiny jail that can hold up to 34 inmates in five pods that have two to four cells each. It was opened in 1989, Newman said.
Ryan Dougherty and Lee Grace Dougherty remain at the jail. Newman said there are no plans to move them elsewhere.
"With Dylan being the instigator of this and his being caught, the major part of this threat is gone," Newman said. "We're really a lot more alert and watching them a lot closer now."
Newman said there was some concern with holding all three in the same jail, adding that guards took stepped up security measures that included more impromptu searches — called shakedowns — of Dylan's Doughtery's cell that uncovered the plan.
The three siblings are accused of robbing a Valdosta, Ga., bank and firing at a police officer in Zephyrhills, Fla., who was chasing their car when one of the suspects began shooting at his cruiser, disabling it, the FBI said.
In the Colorado chase, shots were fired at officers before the suspects' car rolled and crashed into a guardrail, authorities said.
Lee Grace Dougherty is set to go on trial Feb. 21 on attempted second-degree murder, assault and other charges related to the chase.
The brothers were granted a stay in proceedings until Monday, so federal and Florida prosecutors can decide how to proceed in the case.
In addition to charges stemming from the crime spree, Dylan Dougherty faces counts of conspiracy to escape and possession of contraband for the escape plan discovered during the search, authorities said.
During a September hearing, a Colorado Springs detective testified that Ryan Daugherty, the youngest of the three, told him that they hatched a plan to rob a bank and take the money to flee to Mexico.
Ryan Dougherty had just been sentenced to register as a sex offender for a conviction of sending sexually explicit text messages to an 11-year-old girl.
The siblings' mother, Barbara Bell of East Palatka, Fla., told The Associated Press in August that her son was discouraged by the terms of his probation and feared the conviction would prohibit him from seeing his newborn son.
Authorities in Florida said all three siblings had been living together in Lacoochee, Fla., about 45 miles northeast of Tampa, and each had a criminal record. Lee Dougherty has charges pending against her in Florida for hit and run and had previously been charged with battery. Stanley Dougherty had been charged with marijuana possession.