St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - A 51-year-old corrections officer at the Downtown St. Louis Justice Center has been charged in connection with last week's daring escape from the facility.
The Circuit Attorney's Office charged Mori Farrell with five counts of forgery, two counts of permitting escape and one count of making false declaration.
Two Justice Center inmates, 33-year-old David White and 34-year-old Vernon Collins, escaped from the Justice Center on the morning of Friday, April 22. Police said the men were in the infirmary as the Justice Center, located at 200 S. Tucker. Both White and Collins removed their yellow corrections jumpsuits prior to escaping. They pushed the bunk bed they were assigned to sleep in and put it against the wall. They climbed into the ceiling and were able to gain access to a window. They smashed the window, tied bed sheets together into a rope and used that to get down the wall and escape the building.
White was previously charged with burglary, domestic assault, unlawful use of a weapon, endangering the welfare of a child and property damage. Collins had previously been charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, armed criminal action, assault, resisting arrest and disarming a correctional officer.
Police said Collins was suspected of shooting a St. Louis police officer when they got into a struggle over the officer's gun earlier this year following a stabbing investigation in the 5200 block of St. Louis Avenue. The officer was critically injured in the shooting.
The inmates were apprehended within 24 hours and charged again.
According to court documents, Farrell was assigned to the infirmary area of the Justice Center, which included a cell holding White and Collins. Nine inmates were in the infirmary - eight male and one female.
Farrell was responsible for performing watch tours every half hour on all individuals confined to the infirmary. He was to confirm by sight that all inmates were present in their cells and enter that information into a database, which includes what time the guard performed the check and the number of confined individuals present at the time of said check.
The detention center supervisor said guards were required to perform physical head counts of confined individuals by calling off their names and confirming their presence. Guards would then report the results of the head counts to admissions personnel on the second floor, who would then relay that information via reports to a master control hub in the Justice Center.
Prosecutors allege Farrell made false entries into that database, and said he admitted to detectives that he lied about making status checks on the inmates on four occasions that morning.
A nurse at the Justice Center infirmary told investigators that at approximately 2:15 a.m. she reported hearing loud banging noises coming from one of the cells to Farrell. The noise was coming from the cell containing White and Collins.
Farrell allegedly walked into the cell area but did not enter any of the cells. He noticed the bed was on its side but did not see Vernon Collins. He then allegedly told the nurse that one of the inmates was exercising with his bed.
Around 2:45 a.m., the same nurse went to the guard again and said she heard more banging noises coming from the cell, prosecutors said. The guard again went into the cell area and looked in the cell, but did not see Vernon Collins. This time, however, authorities allege Farrell told the nurse someone was taking a shower. The nurse told the guard inmates were not allowed to take showers because of the time and staff requirements.
Prosecutors said Farrell later admitted to detectives that he never observed Collins in the infirmary at that point either.
Just before 6 a.m., Farrell went to the second floor supervisor to provide head count information and allegedly confirmed all the inmates were present. Authorities said the supervisor used this false information and made a false report.
The infirmary nurse said at some point around 6 a.m. she looked into the cell holding Collins and White and saw neither man present. She then informed Farrell, who confirmed both men were missing. Farrell then reported to the master control hub that the inmates were missing.
A St. Louis police officer interviewed the guard at 7 a.m. to review what had happened. Farrell is accused of lying to the police officer by saying he reportedly saw the inmates just before 6 a.m.
Farrell admitted to lying to authorities all this time to avoid getting into trouble, prosecutors said.