Nash County residents on edge as search continues for last escaped inmate

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The Nash County Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help to find a fifth inmate still at large after he and four others escaped from the jail Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday the sheriff’s office said it was focusing the search for Laquaris Battle in Castalia. He was born there and still has family in the area.

“We’re focusing on the Castalia area, which is about nine or 10 miles north on 58 from where we’re at right now,” said chief deputy Brandon Medina.

Longtime Castalia resident Joyce Johnson said the jailbreak was alarming enough. Learning Battle was from the area and could possibly have returned was a surprise.

“‘Grandma, lock the doors, the windows, and everything.’ I said, ‘Well, they are not in this area,'” Johnson said. “That would be the last place I figured he would come back.”

Battle, who has a previous felony conviction, was being held at the Nash County Jail without bond on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and simple assault.

The sheriff’s office believes the men had outside help and asks anyone who knows where Battle is to call 911.

Battle was last seen wearing white long johns and a white tee shirt. The Nash County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $1,500 reward for information that leads to his arrest.

On Monday, Battle and four other inmates kicked open a fence in the jail’s exercise yard, then scaled two gates to make their escape.

David Viverette and Raheem Horne were captured at a hotel in Rocky Mount around 11:30 p.m. Monday.

“They had a room that was registered to them, to a different individual which we’re going to conduct a follow-up on, and the information panned out that they were in the room hiding, and came out without any further incident,” Medina said.

The sheriff’s office says the woman who paid for the pair’s room could face charges.

Early Tuesday morning, Keonte Murphy and David Ruffin were captured at a home in Farmville.

The sheriff’s office said 140 people from different agencies helped in the manhunt.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said the escape highlights the need for upgraded facilities at the jail.

He said, at the time of the escape, no guards were physically in the yard, and the camera monitoring the area was facing away from the spot where the men broke out.

Stone said the wire fencing in the yard had been replaced a few months prior, but was still in a dilapidated state.

“They saw a weak spot in our infrastructure and took advantage of it,” he said.

Stone said that, since becoming sheriff in 2014, he’s wanted to make changes to the jail, and increase staffing. He also said the jail was built in the 1970s and meant to accommodate a smaller population of inmates than what it currently houses.

The last addition to the jail was in 1999.

The sheriff’s office Tuesday said the jail is currently housing 229 inmates. Its capacity is 293.

On Tuesday, representatives from the sheriff’s office met with county commissioners to give a yearly budget presentation that included requests for a pay increase for officers, as well as more employees for the department. 

A new jail can only come as part of a capital project.

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