CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two prison inmates who escaped from the Denmar Correctional Facility in Pocahontas County were captured in the Richwood area Monday morning.
Thomas Pennington and Larry Morehead escaped from the jail about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. State Police, Pocahontas County sheriff's deputies, officers for the Division of Natural Resources and state corrections officers were searching for the men.
State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said the men apparently used string and a piece of metal to hold down razor wire around the jail perimeter and escape. He said authorities searched the woods in the area and set up roadblocks to try to catch the escapees.
"We're using any tactics we can, including helicopters and including dogs," he said just before the men were caught.
Baylous said dogs were able to track the men to U.S. 219 near Hillsboro, where the trail went cold. Police think Morehead and Pennington may have then gotten into a car.
"We think it's very likely they had outside help," he said. "We think they had a ride waiting for them."
He said troopers from the State Police detachment in Richwood got a tip the men were seen walking along W.Va. 39 and went to investigate. Morehead and Pennington were captured following a short foot chase near Fenwick, he said.
The two were to be taken to Mount Olive Correctional Complex, a maximum-security prison, put in a segregated unit for high-risk inmates and charged with felony escape, said state Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein.
Investigators were at the Denmar prison Monday reviewing video footage, the layout of the facility and possible escape routes the prisoners might have taken. Corrections officials believe the men escaped through a window in a bathroom or the housing quarters, Rubenstein said.
The men were identified as missing during one of the head counts, he said. A report is being prepared to find out what went wrong. Officials will interview jail staff, State Police, other inmates at the facility and Pennington and Morehead, Rubenstein said. The facility has about 80 on staff, according to Rubenstein.
The medium-security facility, which used to be Denmar Hospital, has 216 beds -- but no bars on windows or cells, he said.
Rubenstein said he could only recall one other escape from the facility since it opened about 20 years ago. Denmar usually takes prisoners who have exhibited good behavior in other facilities.