Troopers apprehend escapees

New York State Troopers helped apprehend two fugitives from justice after the pair escaped from an Arkansas prison and drove to New York state. Trooper Stephen Austin attempted to pull over the vehicle the men were in traveling in when they did not signal a turn. The men led Troopers and Hornell Police on a vehicle chase and eventually a foot chase. The men were apprehended in a back yard. We commend the Troopers and police officers for their work in this case, which proves that no day is ever routine for a police officer. The Evening Tribune newspaper of Hornell published an article about the incident, which is shown below.

By Justin Head

The Evening Tribune

Hornell, N.Y. – Two convicted killers who escaped from an Arkansas prison wearing guard uniforms made at the facility were captured in a neighborhood in the City of Hornell shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Jeffrey Grinder, 32, and Calvin Adams, 39, were both serving life sentences for capital murder charges — without the possibility of parole — in the Cummins Unit in Grady, Ark., when they escaped Friday night. Now, they are back behind bars after Hornell police caught them following a high speed chase.

Hornell police charged Adams, the alleged driver, with felony first-degree reckless endangerment, and both men were charged with felony fugitive from justice.

The pair led authorities on an 18-mile pursuit that lasted about 15 minutes. The chase started on Interstate 86 in the Town of Angelica and ended in the Maple City where they were captured by Hornell and state police after a short foot chase.

Grinder and Adams were arraigned Tuesday evening in Hornell City Court in front of Judge Joseph Damrath and were transported to the Steuben County jail where they are being held without bail. The men will return to Hornell for a 9 a.m. Thursday for a hearing where they will be provided with council to decide if they are going to contest extradition. 

The chase began when an Amity-based Trooper Stephen Austin attempted to pull over a maroon Hyundai Sonata with Missouri plates that read 9AB-81M on Interstate 86 after the driver failed to use his signal during a turn. The car sped away from the trooper after pulling over briefly.

The chase — that reached speeds in excess of 90 mph — entered the city on State Route 21 and was called off for the safety of the public as the men sped through the downtown shopping district, narrowly missing several vehicles.

Troopers said the car travelled the opposite direction of traffic on the interstate after making a U-turn and drove toward an oncoming marked police car at one point during the chase. Hornell police officers were nearly involved in a head-on collision on West Main Street as they responded to the pursuit.

The car was abandoned at the corner of Maple Street and Cameron Avenue — both dead end streets — with the key still in the ignition. The car stopped after striking a street post.

The men immediately fled the car and police scanners reported they ran towards Chaddock Avenue. 

Hornell police officers Todd Giglio and Kate Gleason and state police Inv. George Grbic apprehended the men without struggle in the back yard of a house on Wesley Avenue after a brief foot chase.

No one was hurt during the incident and no weapons were found in the vehicle.

Arkansas Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler said the last confirmed sighting of the convicted killers was Monday night in Michigan before they were spotted Tuesday by Austin.

Troop Commander Mark Koss said at a Tuesday night press conference it was unknown if the men have family or know people in the area, but investigators continue to explore the possibility.

“I heard from someone one of the men said they were heading to New York City to see the Statue of Liberty,” said Chief Ted Murray of where they may have been traveling to.

Arkansas State Police said Tuesday they had arrested three people over the weekend suspected of providing the car to the inmates to help with their escape.

Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said Tuesday that police arrested Deana Davison and Ryan McKinney, both of Little Rock, and Michael Stephenson of Jacksonville. The three were arrested and charged Saturday with furnishing an implement for escape, a felony, Sadler said.

Sadler would not say if police believe others may have helped the killers escape the unit.
“I can tell you that there is a continuing investigation that is including interviews with other individuals,” Sadler said.

McKinney and Stephenson were both being held at the Lincoln County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bond. Bond was set at $25,000 for Davison, who was taken to the Jefferson County Jail.

Five Correction Department officers have been put on unpaid leave while the department investigates the escape. The five officers have not been identified, but a spokeswoman for the department has said they had been guarding the entry and exit points of the prison.

Among the jobs for inmates at the Cummins Unit is making uniforms for jail guards and law officers. Video surveillance shows the men put the uniforms on in the prison library after the 6 p.m. headcount and walked out of the prison unchallenged during a shift change less than 20 minutes later, Tyler said.

“The interesting thing is the two sets of Arkansas prison guard outfits were found in the car, they were complete uniforms with IDs,” said Murray.

Adams is from Leachville, Ark., and was convicted of capital murder in 1995 in the 1994 kidnapping and shooting death of banker Richard Austin, 25. Austin’s wife was wounded and was able to walk more than a mile for help. Grinder is from Yellville, Ark., and was convicted of capital murder, aggravated robbery and burglary in the 2003 beating death of Pat Gardner, 77, who lived near Springdale.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday called the escape “inexcusable” and said he was waiting on the department’s investigation on how it occurred. He said he was sure there would be some ramifications.

Associated Press Writer Jill Zeman Bleed
contributed to this report.