Man charged with capital murder tries to escape jail; ACSO tightens security

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Security has been tightened at the Adams County jail after jailers found evidence that capital murder suspect Nathan Hogan and his cellmate were trying to escape.

Hogan, who has been in jail since Oct. 24 in connection with the July 2003 death of John Vassar, and cellmate William McGraw, in jail since May 20 on motor vehicle theft charges, were allegedly trying to dig their way out.

Sheriff Ronny Brown said jailers were attempting to move the men to a new cell when they discovered the mortar around the cell window had been chipped away.

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&uot;They were one-third of the way around,&uot; Brown said. &uot;It was a good attempt. We are not sure if they could get out that way or not, but they were trying to.&uot;

Moving inmates from one cell to another is a routine security procedure, Brown said, and Hogan and McGraw arose suspicions when they did not want to move. Further investigation in the cell turned up sketches of the cell, the cellblock and the cell key. The cell also contained extra blankets and a law book with pages relating to Hogan’s case torn out.

Brown said the digging around the window went unnoticed because the men were covering up the work as they did it. No tool for digging has been found yet. Brown said small paper clips were found in the cell, but he doesn’t suspect they were used. Hogan and McGraw were taken to justice court and have been charged with felony attempted jail escape and destroying county property. Both are denying that they were trying to escape, Brown said. During the cell rotation jailers also discovered that inmate Jeffrey Clark, in jail on charges of burglary of a dwelling, had beaten a hole in a concrete block in his cell. He was charged with destruction of public property.

As a result of the attempted escapes no prisoners are being allowed out of their cells, there is no visitation and television and outdoor privileges have been taken away. Surveillance cameras previously only viewed by jailers have been installed on every computer in the sheriff’s office and jailers are doing more checks of cells, Brown said.

&uot;We have three in for capital murder,&uot; Brown said. &uot;We don’t want any problems. We are going to do whatever we have got to do to make the jail secure. They are not going to get out.&uot;

Brown said the jail’s walls are concrete with steel reinforcements. He said it was probably possible to loosen the frame of the windows and kick the pane loose. The security of the windows will now be looked at. From now on all cells will be checked on a daily basis, Brown said.

Brown said there have been escapes from the jail in years past, including one incident where a jailer was held hostage.