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Escapee was gone for an hour before Oklahoma County jail let police know

Jesus Rubio
Jesus Rubio

Convicted kidnapper Jesus Rubio was supposed to be on his way to prison Wednesday morning to begin a 30-year sentence for crimes against a former girlfriend.

Instead, he escaped, simply leaving through an open garage door while no one was looking.

“The detainees in this building are constantly searching for weaknesses in our systems. And they're one up on us today,” jail administrator Greg Williams said at a news conference.

Rubio, 30, escaped at 6:34 a.m., the jail said.

He was back in custody two hours later after police found him in a stolen work van. He was captured after a brief pursuit in south Oklahoma City, near where his ex-girlfriend lived.

Police were not notified about the escape for almost an hour, The Oklahoman has learned. And, that notification came when the jail's administrator called the police chief directly rather than calling 911.

Police confirmed Chief Wade Gourley was told about the escape in a phone call received at 7:33 a.m. The police chief then let dispatch know.

“Once it was determined the inmate had escaped the facility, OCPD was notified,” the Oklahoma County Jail Trust chair, Tricia Everest, told The Oklahoman.

At the news conference, Williams said “our law enforcement partners in the area” were notified after staff made sure another staff person hadn't come and got Rubio.

The escape comes at a time when the administration of the jail and the trust are already under investigation because of a beating death Jan. 2.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into staffing levels and other issues at the jail at the request of Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater.

“We are currently investigating further to determine if there is evidence available to prosecute those in jail administration and possibly those on the jail trust who know or should have known the conditions of the jail and the lack of staffing that contributed to this murder,” Prater said Jan. 8.

Williams said staffing was not a contributing factor in the escape.

He did acknowledge that a procedural problem — an open door — was to blame. He said he was working with his staff “to identify any weaknesses that we might have or any things that we should change to prevent this in the future.”

“We will address those, absolutely," he said.

It was the third escape since July 1 when the trust took over operations of the 13-story facility just west of downtown Oklahoma City.

The escape occurred after officers took 11 inmates to the loading area in a sally port of the jail for transportation to prison, the administrator said.

“They were putting handcuffs and leg irons on them,” Williams said. “The officer, as I understand, at this point, he looks up. He counts, ‘One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, 10.’ So ... he starts looking. Because it’s not unusual for a person to step out of line or a staff person to come and pull a guy out of line to go to the restroom or do some other function with them as they’re being prepared. So ... it wouldn't have been immediately alert that the guy was on escape.”

The officer noticed Rubio was not in line within two or three minutes of the escape, the administrator said. There were three officers in all assigned to do the transfer, he said.

Rubio was sentenced to 30 years in prison in November after being convicted at trial of kidnapping, domestic abuse and violation of a protective order.

He was found guilty of kidnapping and abusing his ex-girlfriend after confronting her at a store on Oct. 31, 2018, prosecutors said. He forced her into his truck, took her to a soccer field and slapped her repeatedly, according to the evidence.

He was attempting to coerce her into having sex and to dropping criminal charges and a victim protective order filed against him, prosecutors said.

He also was sentenced to prison in November for assaulting another woman on Nov. 26, 2018. He pleaded no contest to that felony charge.

The jail called the DA’s office about the escape so victims could be alerted but not until 8:10 a.m., The Oklahoman was told.

Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,... Read more ›

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