Police release more details of escape, jail officer resigns



The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department released more details Monday about the inmate who escaped from the jail Friday evening.

Among those updates was that jailer Sheri Ray, who recently started at the jail, resigned from her position Sunday, police said.

Sheriff Rick Meyer said Ray was in the control room when the door in the recreational area of the jail was unlocked. Daniel Aaron Coomer of Clarksville then escaped out that door and jumped a chain-link wire fence topped with barbwire. It would be nearly 23 hours before police found him in Clark County.

The door is used for evacuating inmates during an emergency, Meyer said. It opens slightly when unlocked and must be physically closed if it’s unlocked.

Meyer said investigators are looking at "every possible scenario" about why the door was unlocked.

"We believe it was an accident but are still investigating, and we’re not going to rule out anything," he said. "I think most of us think it was an accident."

Ray could not be reached for comment.

Coomer escaped through an exterior door in the recreational area around 8:40 p.m. Friday. Three other inmates were in the area at the time.

Jailers discovered he escaped around 9:10 p.m.

He was captured around 7:20 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of Bubba’s 33 restaurant in Clarksville.

At the time of his escape, Coomer was being held at the jail on charges of driving while suspended, possession of methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia, auto theft, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing endangerment and impersonation of a public servant.

Coomer now faces two burglary charges, three theft charges and charges for escape and possession of methamphetamine. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of resisting law enforcement.

After escaping the jail, Coomer fled south and came to a residence, where he stole a vehicle and clothing. He also took a backpack full of hair-cutting equipment but did not cut his hair despite messaging others from a cellphone that he had plans to, police said.

Around 3 a.m., Detective Stan Darlage said Coomer broke into St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church Wegan and school. It’s there that Darlage said Coomer stole a saxophone, change, a computer and office supplies.

He also drank a water and soda and ate cereal and a container of sprinkles.

Coomer drove an all-terrain vehicle to steal the truck in the 3400 block of South County 300E near Wegan. Meyer said the owner of the vehicle knew the truck was at their home at 3:30 a.m., so police believe he was there until around that time before fleeing the county.

Police discovered Coomer drove to Louisville, Kentucky, at one point before returning to Clark County.

Police said they were able to track Coomer’s movements after he purchased a cellphone and created a social media account.

Investigators do not know where Coomer purchased the cellphone or where he got the money to do so.

Coomer had conducted some activity on the account, which led police to Clarksville. 

"That information led us to believe he would be going to Clarksville, so I sent undercover officers there to set up a sting," Meyer said.

Darlage said police continue to investigate the case and process the vehicle.

Coomer’s arrest occurred after three officers went inside the restaurant while the other two remained outside anticipating Coomer’s arrival.

"They communicated with each other when they saw him pull into the parking lot of the restaurant in the stolen vehicle," Meyer said.

Coomer remained in his vehicle for a few minutes before he got out and was taken into custody.

Darlage, who was one of the officers involved in the arrest, said Coomer admitted to police he was high on methamphetamine.

"He told me he ate a rock before he got out of the truck," he said.

He was booked back into the jail around 9:20 p.m. Saturday.

Ray was one of eight people to be featured in A&E’s reality television show "60 Days In," where volunteers are incarcerated for 60 days in the Clark County Jail. She was offered a position as a jailer at the Clark County Jail after the show aired from August 2016 to February 2017.

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