WEST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (NBC33) — Louisiana State Penitentiary officials say two inmates tried to escape Angola Sunday morning. They say convicted rapist, Melvin Johnson, from Orleans Parish, and Aaron Francois, a convicted murderer from Lafayette Parish, got a way from the exercise yard, but got caught just over two hours later.
"They were cellmates lived together, and they thought they could make it I guess, " Burl Cain, Warden of Louisiana State Penitentiary, said. "Well on our watch which is about nine or ten years we have never lost one that we didn't catch. So, it's pretty hard to get away from us we practice all the time."
The two men broke through one fence in the exercise yard.
"The inside fence I think had been jimmied or twisted or something done to it, because it was to easier for them to get through it without going over it," Cain described. "I don't think they could have done it in 10 minutes. I think they'd been working on the fence awhile. "
Then the pair went over a razor wire topped fence. One of the men was injured. From there the guys got over a levee adjacent to Camp "C" and went into the wooded area nearby still on prison ground. They walked through water and mud, accidentally leaving behind a clue for chase teams.
"The cows really helped us. I couldn't believe the cows were running out of the woods. When I saw the cows I talked to the chase team with the dogs. I said did ya'll run these cows out of the woods. They said no we don't see the cows. I said well they're here then," Cain explained. "That verified our trail."
The men tried to distract search dogs by using a special spice.
"They had pepper and they put the pepper out. But, the pepper didn't work, because that's just an old wives tale that the blood hounds can't smell through the pepper," Cain stated.
Just after eleven, the search teams caught the crooks. Officials said the men surrendered without a fight.
"They didn't say anything. They had nothing to say. All I told them was ya'll look real sad, and they just looked real sad," Cain described.
Now on Warden Burl Cain said the escapees work out time will be a lot different.
"They won't be exercising in the yard in that environment again. From here on, they will be in a cage when they are in the yard exercising. They've proved they want to run away so we're gong to take them at their word. We saw it," He stated.
The prison was closed to visitors Sunday because of the escape.
Cain said his team is investigating what happened in the exercise yard with the fence.
"The fence did alert, but we didn't get a call about the alert," Cain said. "We are going to see why the technology or the human didn't work. Either way one of them has to go. So, we are going to correct that and then everything else worked perfectly. "