Four Men, Including One Held on a Murder Charge, Escape From a Georgia Jail

Four men, including one accused of killing a woman who was found strangled, escaped from a jail in central Georgia early on Monday, prompting law enforcement officials to warn the public and begin a search that involved several agencies.

The inmates were considered dangerous, officials said.

Sheriff David Davis of Bibb County said at a news conference on Monday that the authorities believed the four men escaped from the Bibb County Detention Center in Macon, Ga., by climbing out of a second-floor window in a day room and then slipping through a break in a fence. Macon is about 80 miles southeast of Atlanta.

The four inmates were identified as Joey Fournier, Marc Kerry Anderson, Johnifer Dernard Barnwell and Chavis Demaryo Stokes.

Video footage shows a blue Dodge Challenger arriving outside the jail around 3:30 a.m. on Monday, Sheriff Davis said, adding that in the video someone appears to be tampering with the fence. That person can be seen leaving items inside the fence; the authorities believe the items were used by the inmates in their escape, he said.

“They could be anywhere,” Sheriff Davis said.

Credit…Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, via Associated Press

Other details about the escape were unclear, such as whether the inmates fled in the blue vehicle or on foot, and whether they were still together. Sheriff Davis said that anyone who came across any of the inmates should contact the police and not confront them.

“I would consider these individuals to be a little bit dangerous,” he said.

It was also unclear whether the four inmates knew one another before they were booked into the county jail, Sheriff Davis said.

Mr. Fournier, 52, had been held on a murder charge in connection with the death of Cynthia Berry, a former girlfriend, in February 2022, according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office. Ms. Berry, 49, was found dead from strangulation in her home, the Sheriff’s Office said at the time.

Mr. Anderson, 24, had been held on an aggravated assault charge, and Mr. Stokes, 29, had been detained on charges of drug trafficking and possession of a firearm, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Mr. Barnwell had been held at the jail since June, when he had been arrested by the United States Marshals, according to jail records. He was convicted this month on drug and firearm charges related to a criminal street gang’s operation to distribute fentanyl, methamphetamine and other drugs, and he could face up to life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Georgia. It was unclear whether Mr. Barnwell’s arrest in June was related to the drug case. The U.S. Marshals did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers for the four men could not be immediately reached on Monday evening.

The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, the F.B.I. and the U.S. Marshals Office were involved in the search for the inmates on Monday.

The task force did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The F.B.I.’s office in Atlanta referred questions to the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Davis said that a number of issues at the jail could have played a role in the escape, such as the state of the jail and staffing levels. The jail holds about 800 detained people, and they are typically supervised by six to eight staff members, Sheriff Davis said, adding that ideally about 30 people should be working at the jail.

The four inmates escaped from one of the oldest and most run-down portions of the jail, Sheriff Davis said.

“We have a jail that has fallen down on us,” he said.

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