Escaped Arkansas convicts thought to be in Missouri

Monday, June 1, 2009 | 10:48 a.m. CDT; updated 3:14 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 1, 2009

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  — Authorities on Monday continued to look in southeast Missouri for two convicted killers who escaped from the Cummins Unit in Grady, Ark., by putting on jail-guard uniforms and walking out the front door.

Jeffrey Grinder, 32, and Calvin Adams, 39, were convicted of capital murder and were serving life sentences without parole. Correction Department spokeswoman Dina Tyler says the men were spotted Saturday in two southeast Missouri communities, Hayti and Braggadocio.

The men had a car waiting for them outside the prison.

Tyler says Adams has relatives in the area and there is no reason to believe the men have moved on. She said the sightings are "valid," and other sightings in Arkansas and Texas have been discounted.

"We still think the probability is they are in the (southeast Missouri) area," Tyler said Monday.

Grinder and Adams are believed to be traveling together. Tyler said Adams knows the southeast Missouri region.

"They could have slipped past us, but we are holding our ground there," Tyler said.

Among the jobs for inmates at the Cummins Unit is making uniforms for jail guards and law officers. Video surveillance shows the men put the uniforms on in the prison library after the 6 p.m. headcount and walked out of the prison unchallenged during a shift change less than 20 minutes later, Tyler said.

Tyler said the agency is investigating how the prisoners got the uniforms.

"We know that they used officer uniforms and they walked out the front," Tyler said. "We don't know where the uniforms came from, but the suspect has to be the garment factory."

Authorities are also trying to find out who left the automobile for the fugitives.

Tyler said those questions would be answered by the investigation but the department is focusing on capturing Adams and Grinder.

Adams is from Leachville, Ark., and was convicted of capital murder in 1995 in the 1994, kidnapping and shooting death of banker Richard Austin, 25. Austin's wife was wounded and walked more than a mile for help. Grinder is from Yellville, Ark., and was convicted of capital murder, aggravated robbery and burglary in the 2003 fatal beating of Pat Gardner, 77, who lived near Springdale, Ark.

Tyler said investigators are still trying to develop information that could lead them to the fugitives. Anyone who knows where Adams and Grinder may be is asked to call authorities.

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