Dodge jail inmates escape through air vent, caught in south Georgia

Two Dodge County jail inmates escaped early Sunday through an air conditioning duct, but their freedom was short-lived, authorities said.

Sometime after the 1 a.m. guard check, Jeff Joiner, 29, and Charlie Mullis, 22, tore the wire covering off the air vent above their cell and somehow managed to rip out an iron rod from across the approximately 10 by 10-inch opening, Dodge County Sheriff Jeff Hinson said.

“If you had told me, I’d have said there’s no way a human body could have gotten through that hole,” Hinson said.

Mullis weighs about 155 pounds, while Joiner is 6’1” and tips the scales at 175, the sheriff said.

Joiner, who was being held on theft charges, was caught at about 4:15 a.m. in Albany by Dougherty County sheriff’s deputies. Mullis, who was in jail on drug charges, was nabbed at about 5:45 a.m. in Tifton by Tift County deputies.

“They’ll be charged with escape,” Hinson said.

The jail is adjacent to the county courthouse and is decades old. The county plans to open a new jail by 2011.

“We’re going to start construction on May 1. Hallelujah!” said Hinson.

In the meantime, Hinson, who took office in January, brought in a welding crew Sunday to place heavier and more escape-proof coverings over all the air vents in the old jail.

“That problem is totally eliminated,” he said.

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.