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Wednesday
Mar052014

Manhunt for Jail Escapees in Rural Colorado

iStock/ThinkstockUPDATE: Three of the escaped inmates are back in custody, while another remains unaccounted for.

(LA JUNTA, Colo.) -- The small town of La Junta, Colorado is on high alert as authorities search for  prisoners who escaped the Otero County Jail late Tuesday, one of whom was being held for an earlier escape attempt.

As of 10 a.m. MST, Curtis Apodaca–one of four that escaped–had been captured, according to the Chief of the La Junta Fire Department.  No further details have been released regarding Apodaca’s capture.

The Colorado National Guard, Colorado State Patrol and Colorado Department of Corrections confirmed to ABC News that they are helping locate the inmates along with the Otero County Sheriff’s Office.

In a statement posted on its website, the Otero County Sheriff’s Office said two inmates rushed and overpowered a detention officer at about 8 p.m. MST Tuesday. The two prisoners then let another two inmates out of their cell, and together the four fled the jail.

“After a skirmish inside, they were able to make their way out of the facility and head north from the sheriff’s office,” Otero County Sheriff Chris Johnson told ABC affiliate KRDO.

Apodaca, Angel Castrejon, Johnny Nunez and Malcolm Hoffert headed away from La Junta – shedding some of their jail clothing in a rail yard at the edge of town, according to the statement.

Roger Hudson with the Colorado Department of Corrections, told ABC News that his organization has taken the lead on the search–deploying 50 or more people to hunt down the inmates–including a “canyon escape team,” which is used to rugged terrain.

“We will continue to assist the Otero County Sheriff’s Office until these men have been captured,” Hudson said. In addition, a K-9 unit and a fugitive apprehension unit are helping locate the prisoners.

The Colorado National Guard said in a statement that they have a Blackhawk helicopter assisting the search, with “a crew of four citizen-soldiers on board.”

All four escapees were being held in jail awaiting court appearances.

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