MERCED - Three Merced County inmates are on the run after escaping from the John Latorraca Correctional Center -- the second escape from the jail this year.
Investigators said the escapees were all incarcerated for nonviolent offense. Inmates Richard Perry, 28, Donald Stephenson, 45, and Christopher Daniels, 28, are believed to have escaped from the jail early Monday morning by crawling through a ceiling vent in bathrooms of one of the jail's dorms, according to Merced Sheriff's Cmdr. Joe Scott.
The three are believed to have left together and were wearing blue jailhouse jumpsuits when they took off. "They had somehow gotten (the vent) loose and then went up through the roof," Scott said. The inmates then broke through the jail's plywood and tar roof with a two-by-four slab of wood and fled.
Correctional officers noticed the men were missing during an inmate head count.
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Scott said investigators are reviewing surveillance footage of the escape. Members of the Sheriff's Tactical and Reconnaissance Team were searching for them.
Perry was in jail on stolen property and identity theft charges, Stepheson on check fraud and theft charges. Daniels was held on charges of sale or provision of a burglary tool and receiving stolen property. Perry is also known to be a "skinhead" gang member, Scott said.
Earlier this month, inmate Javier Fonseca Jaramillo escaped from the jail. Jaramillo, a drug offender, remains at large.
Investigators ask anyone with information about Jaramillo's or the others' whereabouts to call the Merced County Sheriff's Department at 209 385-7444.