Grand Jury Indicts Bowie County Escapee Days After Capture


TEXARKANA, Texas–A man who was on the run from authorities for months following a brazen escape in July from the Bowie County jail was indicted Thursday, just days after being returned to the downtown Texarkana jail.

J.C. Lee Kirby, 39, and Wayde Burton Land, 39, were discovered missing July 7 hours after they had reportedly made up their bunks to appear they were sleeping, managed their way from the 4th-floor lockup in the downtown Bi-State Justice Building, dressed in street clothes and walked out. Both men were arrested in Austin, although months apart. Kirby was caught this month.

An indictment issued Thursday charges Kirby with escape and if convicted, he faces two to ten years in prison. Kirby’s daughter, Haylee Blackmon, was arrested shortly after the escape for hindering apprehension. She assisted her dad and Land and initially lied to police, according to a probable cause affidavit. Blackmon is currently serving a five-year term of probation.

Land has already pleaded guilty to escape and been sentenced to seven years in prison. He was in jail on a prior escape charge at the time of the July escape. In March 2022, Land and a different inmate, Michael Olson, 30, managed to break out of the Bowie County jail annex.

The two men had broken through cinder block, climbed into a pipe chase and knocked a hole through concrete on the back wall to exit the jail from the second floor. Once outside, the men were able to maneuver through the perimeter fencing and concertina wire before fleeing the jail property, according to a statement from Bowie County Sheriff Jeff Neal at the time.

Land was arrested for escape in Texarkana, Ark., while Olson was shot and killed when he grappled with a Texarkana Ark. Police Dept. officer trying to take him into custody.

Kirby was being held on a drug charge at the time of the July escape and that charge remains pending.

The Bowie County jail was found to be out of compliance during a special inspection in August by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards that was triggered by the break-out. The commission’s inspector noted that jail staff were not doing face-to-face checks every hour as required. The jail has since been restored to compliance and is no longer on the commission’s list of non-compliant detention facilities.

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