Search for escapee continues

Ross County Sheriff Ron Nichols says John Parsons’ escape from the jail in downtown Chillicothe was a freak occurrence. He says Parsons overcame incredible obstacles to make it from a rooftop recreation center onto the street.

“He busted out by using a makeshift rope that he made using tissue and a bed sheet, throwing it over the razor wire to pull the razor wire weight onto the security wall, Nichols says. He was able to get behind that section of razor wire, climb a chain-link fence, penetrate the second row of razor wire, and he was able to drop off to the other side, go around the roof, drop down on the lower roof level, and exit down an alley.

Nichols admits his staff at the jail should have considered Parsons a higher security risk since he eluded authorities for 9 days before being arrested for allegedly killing Chillicothe police officer Larry Cox. Nichols says despite the security concerns at the jail, he needs to concentrate on finding Parsons.

You don’t know what to fix until there’s been a security breach, Nichols says. Then you look at that breach, what was done and how to correct it. These things will be addressed at a later time, but right now my concentration right now is to find this individual, and then we will address these other issues.

But Nichols’ remarks don’t satisfy some Chillicothe residents.

Daniel Wade operates the Mainly Woods Country Store in Chillicothe. He has lived and worked within 100 yards of the Ross County jail for more than a decade. He’s surprised such a high-profile inmate could escape and allude authorities for so long.

I think the Sheriff needs to be looking at his security procedures at the jail, Wade says. I think they had a mess-up to let him get out like that. I would have thought they had tighter security on him.

A few doors down from Wade’s shop sits Ann Marie’s Children’s House of Fashion. Owner Heidi Parks stood in front of her business while officers secured the area immediately after Parson’s escape. She laughs nervously when asked how she feels about a man charged with murder escaping from the nearby jail.

It’s kind of scary, Parks says. Luckily my husband was here working with me that day. I really didn’t think about it like that, but looking back it’s kind of scary, and kind of scary that they never came in to check (for Parsons).

But some people don’t appear bothered by the fugitive. Marty Hurles has lived in Chillicothe most of his 80 years. He says he’s not worried about Parsons or security at the jail.

You can have ever-so-good of a building, and people will find a way out, Hurles says. They always have, and they always will.

Sheriff Nichols says he has more than 200 deputies, officers and troopers searching for Parsons. Authorities are also using planes, helicopters, and about 20 bloodhounds to aid in the search. They are focusing on a 7 square-mile area about 10 miles west of Chillicothe where Parsons was last seen. Nichols says Parsons is likely going without food or water, and should be getting tired.

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