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Escaped Bent County inmate captured in New Mexico

BENT COUNTY, Colo. (KRDO) - The Bent County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) said an inmate who escaped late on April 11  from the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center in La Junta has been captured in Raton, New Mexico.

38-year-old Ronald Caillier was an inmate in the Bent County Jail after being arrested in February for first degree burglary and third degree assault. Bent County Sheriff Jake Six told KRDO13 Investigates Caillier broke into a house demanding a cigarette.

Last Thursday, Caillier was taken to the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center for a medical emergency. While there, Six said, his shackles were removed to perform certain tests. After the tests, Caillier overpowered a deputy and security officer and ran away from the hospital wearing a black and white striped jumpsuit with handcuffs.

"He had his handcuffs in the front," Six said. "They went into a room and he pushed the deputy out of the way, runs for the door. She catches him out the door and they have a small altercation there. Then he runs out the door again. The security guard is giving chase and and was injured in the process of chasing him."

Caillier ran through the Emergency Room entrance, across the hospital's helipad and into a nearby neighborhood behind the hospital.

"Even nurses chased this guy," Six said. "Just the circumstances all lined up to where he was in the right room after the right tests to get exactly what he needed to get his crime of opportunity."

A white van was stolen from the neighborhood shortly after his escape with a handgun hidden under the driver's seat, but Six said he's still not sure if Caillier was the one who stole it.

His escape led to a multi-agency manhunt across counties in southern Colorado. The BCSO said that they learned the Raton Police Department arrested Caillier peacefully around 10:30 a.m. on April 15. He is currently being held in the Colfax County Jail awaiting extradition back to Bent County. Six said he could face additional charges for his escape.

KRDO13 Investigates has extensively reported on a handful of inmates escaping from Bent County in the last year. In July, four inmates escaped through the ceiling of the Bent County Jail, while another inmate escaped in a similar way in January.

Six said the infrastructure concerns at his jail are being addressed. He said Caillier's escape was just a combination of bad circumstances.

"Because of medical reasons there's little the deputy could have done to actually prevent what had happened other than further injuring herself or having more staff at the hospital," Six said.

Currently the Bent County Jail is holding Otero County inmates while the Otero County Sheriff's Office builds a new jail. This means all of the Otero County Sheriff's Office deputies are working in the Bent County Jail. However, Six said there are some differing protocols between the two agencies, which have led to some problems, including one of the reasons the four inmates were able to escape in July.

"We basically combined staffs," Six said. "There are two different protocols. They're similar, but there are two different chains of command. Basically, we're running a joint jail."

He said Bent county's protocol requires two deputies to be a part of every medical transport. However, only one Otero County Sheriff deputy accompanied Caillier on his medical transport. He said moving forward that will be a requirement for all deputies with both agencies.

"Our plan is a joint supervisor from Bent or Otero will accompany every transport with a deputy," Six said. "We're going to call up people, pay out some overtime to make sure the hospital end is secure. We've worked tirelessly to make sure the jail is staffed and can hold inmates, so they're still just trying to find other ways out."

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Quinn Ritzdorf

Quinn is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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