Mississippi  Department of  Corrections

Christopher B. Epps  

Phil Bryant

Commissioner   

 Governor  

 

 

 

Date:                        December 4, 2003

Contact:                   Suzanne Singletary

Phone:                     (601) 359-5608

Fax:                         (601) 359-5738

 

MDOC Reveals Findings of  Mississippi State Prison Escape

Jackson¾Commissioner Chris Epps revealed today the results of an Internal Audit investigation into the escape of State Inmate, Larry Hentz.  Hentz is believed to have escaped from Unit 24 B at the Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP) in Parchman, Miss. between the hours of 2:15 a.m. – 2:30 a.m. Monday, November 17, 2003.

Based on information provided through the investigation, Hentz’s wife, Elizabeth Lacy Hentz, was able to smuggle a six inch reciprocating saw blade into MSP during a visitation with Hentz approximately one month ago.  The investigation further revealed that on a November 16 visit with Hentz, Elizabeth Hentz smuggled in without detection a pair of wire cutters and $500 in cash.

The report concludes that Larry Hentz used the reciprocating blade to saw through one of the security bars on his cell window.  It has been estimated that it would have taken approximately three weeks to successfully cut through one of the bars on the window of the cell.  Larry Hentz subsequently was able to negotiate from his cell window to the perimeter security fence (95 feet) without detection.  Hentz then cut through two 12 foot perimeter fences surrounding the unit, composed of number six and number nine gauge wires respectively.  It is 195 feet from the perimeter tower to the location where Hentz cut through the perimeter fences.

The report states that inmate Hentz was discovered missing from his cell by corrections staff at 9:42 a.m. on the morning of November 17.  Once the escape was discovered, escape procedures were immediately implemented, and the MSP K-9 Unit conducted a physical track on Hentz from Unit 24 B building for approximately three miles before the trail ran out on Highway 49 South.  This is where it is believed he was picked up by his wife, Elizabeth Lacey Hentz in a 2001 red four door KIA Sephia with Panola County disabled tag number P4856.

During the course of the investigation, IAD found numerous infractions of staff neglecting to carry out proper standard operating procedures and policies: 

  • A correctional officer did not strip search offender Hentz after visitation on November 16, 2003.

  • Identified correctional officers assigned to the 4:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. shift on November 16, 2003 and the12:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. shifts on November 17, 2003, failed to follow count procedures.

  • A correctional officer assigned to the Unit 24 Perimeter Tower on the

12:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. shift on November 17, 2003 admitted being asleep, allowing Hentz to exit his cell window and cut two fences without being detected.

  • The responsible 12:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. shift supervisor failed to make the required security rounds of Unit 24 B building on November 17, 2003.

  • MSP Area III management/supervisory officials did not make the required weekly inspections of Unit 24 B building.

  • A unit case manager failed to follow proper procedure by not reporting to visitation officials that Elizabeth Hentz was banned from visitation for attempting to smuggle dangerous contraband items into the East Mississippi Correctional Facility in Meridian, Miss., December of 2002

As a result of the investigation and evaluation of the available evidence, MDOC will take the following preliminary corrective actions:

  • 11 MDOC staff persons are facing possible disciplinary action.
  • MDOC officials will continue to be diligent in holding staff at all levels accountable when security policies and procedures are not followed.
  • Visitation security equipment will be enhanced by purchasing metal detectors to hinder dangerous contraband from being introduced into the institution.

Additional Information:

America’s Most Wanted will feature the Larry Hentz escape, Saturday, December 6 at 8:00 p.m. CT on the Fox TV network. 

Unit 24

Built in 1975 for $3.6M

192 single-cell medium security beds

2-stories consisting of 3 housing zones

Zones A and B house special needs offenders under mental health care

Zone C houses general population A and B custody inmates

Each housing zone in Unit 24 has 64 beds

 

Description of Suspects:

Larry Shelton Hentz  Elizabeth Lacy Hentz
White Male  White Female
54 years old  63 years old
6’1” 5’5”
250 lbs.  150 - 170 lbs.
Green eyes Blue eyes
Brown hair Brown hair

An extensive joint fugitive investigation to capture Larry and Elizabeth Hentz is being conducted by MDOC with the assistance of local, state and federal law enforcement authorities.