2 inmates recaptured after using bed sheets to escape from Commu - WDRB 41 Louisville News

2 inmates recaptured after using bed sheets to escape from Community Corrections

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Christopher Cornelius (source: Louisville Metro Corrections) Christopher Cornelius (source: Louisville Metro Corrections)
Matthew W. Johnson (source: Louisville Metro Corrections) Matthew W. Johnson (source: Louisville Metro Corrections)
Police say Christopher Cornelius and Matthew Johnson tied bed sheets together and rappelled down the side of the Community Corrections building on Chestnut Street on the evening of Sept. 21, 2015. Police say Christopher Cornelius and Matthew Johnson tied bed sheets together and rappelled down the side of the Community Corrections building on Chestnut Street on the evening of Sept. 21, 2015.
Billie Jo Johnson, left, says she sleeps better knowing her son, Matthew Johnson, is in jail. Her son is charged with heroin possession and briefly escaped from Community Corrections in downtown Louisville. Billie Jo Johnson, left, says she sleeps better knowing her son, Matthew Johnson, is in jail. Her son is charged with heroin possession and briefly escaped from Community Corrections in downtown Louisville.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Monday night, two men tied bed sheets together in an attempt to rappel down the side of Community Corrections in an attempt to escape -- but both of them were back in custody by 6 a.m. Tuesday morning. 

Metro Corrections spokesman Steve Durham says Matthew Johnson and Christopher Cornelius were taken into custody early Tuesday morning by Louisville Metro and Jeffersontown Police.

Cornelius was re-booked into Metro Corrections custody around 3 a.m. Tuesday, but Johnson was to undergo a medical evaluation before being returned to Metro Corrections.

The men tied together five or six bed sheets in attempt to rappel down the side of the building on East Chestnut Street in downtown Louisville. At some point, the sheet snapped, stranding one of the inmates on the roof. He was soon found and detained there.

Director of Metro Corrections Mark Bolton held a press conference Tuesday evening, where he said a nurse at a nearby hospital reported that an inmate appeared to be escaping just after 9:00 Monday night.

The inmates began the escape plan while they were assigned on inmate work detail, Durham said. The community corrections center houses minimum security jail inmates.

"Anytime you have inmates that have been able to breach the secure perimeter of a detention facility, we've got a problem," said Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton.

"We're certainly going to look at what our staff did and didn't do, what they did right, maybe what they didn't do right," Bolton said.

Bolton says the men had access to sheets on the cleaning detail and that they must have ripped when Johnson was climbing down, causing him to fall and break his ankle. 

Cornelius never made it down and was found on the roof behind a generator. Bolton says Johnson broke an ankle and vertebrae.

Johnson was caught Tuesday morning in the back seat of a car following a traffic stop in Jeffersontown. The driver, Sarah Johnson, is now facing charges.

Investigators are reviewing security video and making sure no one else was involved. Bolton doesn’t expect any charges to his employees at this time. He hopes others inmates do not get any ideas from this.

"We're going to stop you, we are going to track you, we are going to capture you, and we are going to charge you,” said Bolton.

Mother: "I sleep better at night when he's incarcerated"

We spoke with Johnson's mother, Billie Jo Johnson, outside Metro Corrections, who expressed relief that he had been re-captured.

“I do sleep better at night when he is incarcerated than I do when he’s out," Johnson said. "We have buried several of his friends. One day I’ll get that phone call.”

Billie Jo Johnson says she had spoken with her son not long before he escaped.

“I don't think he was thinking. If he was thinking he wouldn't have done it,” she said.

Johnson's family says they were alarmed last night when they found out on Facebook that he had escaped. They say he struggles with heroin addiction and has even talked of suicide.

"He said next time he gets out and the cops run up in the house, it will be suicide by police,'" Billie Jo said. "So thank goodness they found him and that did not happen."

Billie Jo says her son has two young children and doesn't believe enough is being done to help heroin addicts in Louisville.

"They supply needles for these people, but it's not helping heroin addicts," she said.

They just spoke to him this week and say he was asking for their help to get an earlier court date. That's why Johnson's mother doesn't believe this escape was planned in advance.

“I think it was a whim. He wouldn't have had us go through the trouble of getting that piece of paper and taking it to the courthouse, he wouldn't have gone through all that if this was a planned deal,” said Billie Jo Johnson.

Johnson's mother and sister now want answers as to how this even happened. His mother says she's disappointed with the security at the Community Corrections building.

“Evidently it ain't good enough,” said Billie Jo Johnson.

Johnson's sister, Misti Johnson, says she's just glad he's alive.

"That much longer that my brother's here on Earth and safe. I don't have to worry," Misti said. 

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