Inmate still at large after escaping CCSO jail

Published 9:42 pm Friday, January 2, 2015




A piece of cardboard and a stolen truck were all Paul Jacob Holley needed to get a nearly seven-hour jump on law enforcement officers when he escaped from Crenshaw County Jail early Friday morning.

Holley broke out of the prison at around 2:15 a.m., according to Chief Investigator Michael Johnson. At 9 a.m., deputies discovered he was missing from his cell and the general population. Holley got out via a fence in the recreation yard.

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“He had propped up the door with some cardboard so that it looked to be closed,” Johnson said. “He climbed the fence and was able to manipulate the wiring in the chainlink fence where he could get out. He then made his way across the top of the jail to the perimeter fence and climbed the perimeter fence to escape.”

Investigators suspect Holley then stole a white 2001 Chevrolet pickup truck that was parked in a lot across the street from the jail. He was last seen heading north.

“We’re looking for him,” said Sheriff Charles West.

Holley escaped using a similar method as inmate William Powell had last October.

“He’s a small fellow and was just able to get between a wire fence and a building,” West said during the search for Powell.

Luverne police officers and state troopers assisted the sheriff’s deputies in the search, which ended at around 11:30 p.m. Powell was found just north of the Smart plant off U.S. Highway 331.

West said the search had concentrated on that vicinity after K-9 units had tracked Powell’s scent.

“We’ve got him surrounded,” said West about two hours into the search.

Johnson said the fence in the recreation yard from which Powell had escaped had since been fixed. Fencing in the jail’s other three recreation yards had not.

“We’re going to try to correct it,” Johnson said.

He said Holley is considered dangerous. Anyone who sees the escaped inmate should notify local law enforcement.

Holley was arrested Nov. 24 after a state trooper discovered the truck he was operating was stolen. He later confessed to a burglary on Petrey Highway.

Thanks to Trooper Justin Vann’s traffic stop, Holley was in custody within 12 hours of the Crenshaw County crime.

“At 9:43 a.m. on Nov. 24, the victim came to the office. By 9:43 p.m. that night, we had him in custody,” said CCSO investigator Ashley Paul.

Vann charged Holley, a former resident of Luverne, with receiving stolen property for the vehicle he was driving. Holley was also charged with giving false identification to a law enforcement officer after he gave Vann a driver’s license that did not belong to him.

The CCSO had its own list of charges for Holley. During an interrogation, Holley confessed to Paul that he had stolen a 2011 Honda Recon 250 four-wheeler worth $5,500, a utility trailer, a flat screen television amongst other things. The items were taken from a chicken farm in the 9000 block of Petrey Highway.

Paul’s investigation had led him to Holley long before the obtained confession. Holley was caught on a surveillance video during the burglary.

“With past dealings, I identified him through the video,” Paul said.

The burglary investigation was a joint effort between the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office, Pike County Sheriff’s Office, Tallassee Police Department and the Alabama Department of Public Safety.

Paul was aware of warrants the Pike County Sheriff’s Office had on Holley for felony probation violation. Pike County investigator Troy Johnson assisted in the investigation. He recovered the trailer and stolen ATV on Pike County Road 1135 where Holley had ditched the stolen items once the trailer had a flat.

Other stolen goods were recovered by the Tallassee Police Department. Crenshaw investigator Mike Johnson said Holley was living somewhere in the woods of Tallassee before his arrest.

The Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office charged Holley with burglary in the third degree and theft of property first degree. Once he is in custody again, he will face escape and additional theft of property charges.