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Multimillion-dollar heist suspect who escaped from Missouri jail caught

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 | 3:30 p.m. CST; updated 5:50 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 18, 2010

ST. LOUIS — A suspect in a multimillion-dollar heist was recaptured Wednesday about 60 miles from the Missouri jail from which he bolted with another inmate, ending his two-day run from federal agents.

John Wesley Jones, 36, was found weaponless before dawn hiding in an attic in a cul-de-sac rental home in Swansea, Ill., and was taken to an Illinois jail. As the U.S. Marshals Service continued its hunt for the other fugitive, Corey Durand Cross, 31, agents also began relocating nearly three dozen federal prisoners who were kept at the same Missouri jail as the two escapees.

Both men busted out of the Lincoln County Jail just northwest of their hometown of St. Louis on Monday after somehow making their way onto the lockup's roof and down a 30-foot wall — an escape authorities have refused to publicly explain.

Jones' capture confirmed what federal agents had suspected since the jailbreak — that Jones still was lurking around St. Louis. Robert O'Connor, a spokesman for eastern Missouri's marshals service, wouldn't divulge what led agents to the Swansea home, though he said investigators believe Cross still remains close.

Authorities had publicly considered both men potentially armed and dangerous, given their backgrounds. At the time of their escape, both were being held without bond on federal charges in separate weapons-related cases. The FBI also had named Jones as a suspect in the well-orchestrated, daylight holdup in August of an ATM Solutions site in St. Louis, and Cross was awaiting a trial scheduled next month on felony charges of illegally having an SKS assault-style rifle during suspected drug-trafficking and possessing heroin with plans to deal it.

Jones' capture after a "a full-court press" manhunt including the FBI brought some relief, O'Connor said.

"Mr. Jones has a very interesting history, and he's not a very nice guy," O'Connor said, citing the man's record of having firearms, the pending felony gun charge and the prospect that he may have been involved in the August holdup of the ATM-servicing business. "He has a very strong incentive to run."

In the meantime, O'Connor said, the marshals service wasn't taking any chances with the Lincoln County lockup and was relocating the nearly three dozen federal prisoners kept there until an explanation of the escape gets fully sorted out.

"As soon as we were notified of the escape, we started looking at all of our options" involving the jail's other federal prisoners, O'Connor said. "We're in the process of removing the inmates."

O'Connor declined to detail where those inmates would be relocated, noting "we don't talk about prisoner movements." The marshals service has eight to 10 area lockups it pays to house federal prisoners, with the security measures of each site routinely scrutinized, O'Connor said.

"Obviously, when things like this happen, we take a look at everything," he said.

Messages left with Lincoln County Sheriff's officials were not immediately returned.

Jones has not been charged in the August heist. An FBI spokeswoman on Wednesday deferred questions about that investigation to the region's U.S. Attorney's Office, where spokeswoman Jan Diltz said "there's nobody here who will address that" because the case remains pending.

During the holdup, four armed bandits clad from head to toe in black overpowered two of the company's workers, subdued them with duct tape and locked them in a vault before using an armored company van to haul away containers filled with loot, authorities said. No one was injured, and the other three suspected bandits have not been identified publicly.

The armored vehicle was found a short time later, and it is believed the suspects made off with a huge amount of money, possibly millions of dollars. Authorities have not publicly said how much money was stolen, though a federal indictment accusing two St. Louis women of plotting to stash some of the loot indicates the U.S. government hoped to seize $612,980 in cash in that case.

The federal weapons count against Jones accuses him of being a felon who illegally possessed a semiautomatic pistol that authorities found a day after the holdup in a car the robbers may have used. Jones has pleaded not guilty to that felony and was scheduled to stand trial on Dec. 6.

Federal prosecutors said in a court filing last month that they anticipate filing additional charges against Jones, though they did not say whether they were related to the ATM Solutions holdup.


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