9 inmates escape South Dakota women’s jail after positive COVID-19 case

Four of the nine inmates were apprehended, and authorities are now checking if any of them have been exposed to the disease

Mugshots from the 9 escaped inmates Pierre Community Work Center

Nine female inmates escaped from a minimum-security jail in Pierre, South Dakota Monday night, the same day an inmate tested positive for COVID-19. Authorities are now scrambling to determine if any of the women came in contact with the infected inmate.

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Three of the nine inmates — Kelsey Flute, 30, Jordan Wakeman, 27, and Pamela Miller, 28, — were apprehended Tuesday on the Crow Creek Reservation, located southeast of Pierre, according to KOTA TV. A fourth inmate, Samantha Waters, 28, was captured by Rapid City police when officers received a tip on where to find her.

At least one of the captured inmates has so far been tested for the coronavirus, but results are still pending, according to Gov. Kristi Noem.

Initially, state officials said eight women escaped from an exterior door at the Pierre Community Work Center. However, Noem corrected this information and informed the media that the number was nine during a COVID-19 press conference Tuesday morning.

The nine women were housed in the same unit as the woman diagnosed with COVID-19. Secretary of Health Kim Malsam-Rysdon said the state is determining if the escaped women had contact with the infected inmate.

All nine of the women face additional escape charges, a felony in South Dakota that could add five more years to their existing sentences.

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The remaining inmates being sought have been identified by KOTA TV as Philomine Boneshirt, 25, Sylvia Red Leaf, 25, Alice Richards, 32, Kayla A. Lamont, 28, and Carly Schoneman, 23. The inmates are locked up for crimes ranging from simple assault to possession of a controlled dangerous substance.

In other news, law enforcement in Washington state were searching Tuesday for six of 14 inmates who escaped from the Yakima County Jail by pushing a table into an exterior fire door and then climbing over a tall fence, according to news reports.