Branchville escapees nabbed in Nebraska - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Branchville escapees nabbed in Nebraska

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Aerial shot of the capture scene Aerial shot of the capture scene

Posted by Natalie Yarbor - email

NEBRASKA (WFIE) - Authorities say the trio of Indiana prison escapees was caught after a chase that ended in Box Butte County Nebraska near the town of Alliance.  

Jerry Sargent, Christopher Marshall, and Bobby Cockerell had been on the run since police say they broke out of the Branchville Prison in Perry County last Friday.    

Shortly before noon Thursday, March 26, 2009, police in Nebraska were advised to be on the lookout for the three fugitives. 

Authorities had been alerted by the US Marshal's Service that the suspects may be in the region.

Sometime in the morning, the suspects had stopped at a filling station in Thedford to have their vehicle repaired. 

Approximately 6:00 PM CDT the mechanic contacted the Thomas County Sheriff's Department stating he recognized the three suspects from an internet photo.  The mechanic described the vehicle as a dark green minivan.

Approximately 5:00 PM CDT the Hooker County Sheriff's Department was contacted by an alert waitress at a restaurant in Mullen who recognized the three from news reports that had aired earlier.

The three had been at the restaurant earlier in the day. 

The Hooker County Sheriff located the suspect vehicle at a local motel and later observed two of the suspects return to the restaurant.

Moments later, the suspects left the restaurant and returned to the motel.

The third got into the vehicle with the other two and they proceeded westbound on Nebraska highway #2 from Mullen.  A Hooker County deputy sheriff followed the vehicle until he was joined by state troopers.

Troopers attempted to stop the vehicle.

The suspect vehicle accelerated  up to 105 miles per hour. Several attempts to stop the vehicle were unsuccessful. The suspects were able to evade tire deflators and road blocks, continuing west bound. 

After entering the city limits the minivan continued to slow down.

As the vehicle slowed to nearly a stop, the three suspects fled.

Two of the suspects were arrested by state troopers after a very short foot pursuit.

The third suspect, who was armed with a semi-automatic handgun, fled down an alley and accosted a couple in a Ford Ranger pickup. 

He got into the right side of the pickup and attempted to car-jack the vehicle.

Within seconds, an officer removed the driver from the vehicle, protecting him from the would-be carjacker, and took the third suspect into custody without further incident.

The suspects' vehicle was found to contain numerous rifles and as well as hand guns, nearly $6000 in cash, and several other items taken in the Kentucky burglary.

The three were housed in the Box Butte County Jail in Alliance where they await transfer of custody to the US Marshal's Service.

Authorities said the men have assaulted four people including the maintenance worker at the prison. 

Marshall is from Monon, Indiana and he is serving a 50 year sentence for dealing cocaine. His earliest possible release date is 1/05/2021.

Sergeant is from Dryer Ridge, Kentucky, and he is serving a 50 year sentence for robbery and criminal confinement. His earliest possible release date is 1/7/2023.

Cockerell is from Jeffersonville, Indiana and he is serving a 20 year sentence for Burglary. His earliest possible release date is 3/29/2016.

"There's two warrants issued for these guys. There's federal and there's state warrants, for their escape," said Doug Garrison of the Indiana Department of Corrections. "Depending on which one is executed, they could be facing a state extradition or federal extradition hearing."

The inmates could appear in court as early as Monday in Nebraska for an initial appearance.

Garrison said it could be awhile before they come back to face charges in the Tri-State.

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