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4 inmates accused of helping in N.M. jailbreak

Four jail inmates who authorities say helped eight others make a brazen escape were charged Wednesday, as officials kept up the search for the five prisoners who remain on the loose.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Four jail inmates who authorities say helped eight others make a brazen escape were charged Wednesday, as officials kept up the search for the five prisoners who remain on the loose, including a convicted murderer.

Two people close to the fugitives were also arrested on counts including not cooperating with investigators.

Authorities believe it took the inmates seven hours to cut through the roof of the Curry County jail, apparently the culmination of a two- or three-day planning effort. Authorities did not immediately say how they think the six other people might have helped with the escape.

Authorities believe the men used handmade instruments to cut a hole near a skylight, then climbed plumbing pipes to get to the roof. It appeared some in the group used a tree to break their falls to reach street level, Curry County Sheriff Matt Murray said.

Authorities said the four inmates accused of helping, who were not among the escapees, face six charges each: three counts of assisting escape and three counts of harboring or aiding a felon. Their names were not immediately available.

Also arrested were Isodoro Salas, father of escaped inmate Edward Salas, and Asha Curry, the mother of a child fathered by escapee Michael England.

The elder Salas was arrested on a probation violation and for resisting or obstruction of an officer because he didn't cooperate with investigators, authorities said. It wasn't immediately clear what Curry was accused of, or whether she or Salas had lawyers.

The eight men were discovered missing late Sunday when Clovis police officers noticed two people in orange jumpsuits running near the jail, Murray said.

Tips point to Lubbock area
Investigators believe some of the at-large escapees could be in west Texas, said Curry County District Attorney Matt Chandler.

"We're still receiving tips that some of the other fugitives, at least one or two of the other fugitives, could be in" the Lubbock area, not far from Clovis, Chandler said.

Victor Apodaca was chased and captured in Clovis soon after his escape. A tip led authorities to Raynaldo Enriquez in Lubbock. Another fugitive, Javier Zapata, 19, was captured by U.S. marshals late Monday in Cactus, Texas.

Still on the loose are Edward Salas, 23, a convicted murderer, and 19-year-old Larry McClendon, who was being held on an open count of murder and aggravated robbery.

Salas was sentenced to life in prison last month for the 2005 shooting of a 10-year-old Clovis boy, who was killed by shots fired through his bedroom window as he slept. He was being held at the jail before being transferred to the state Department of Corrections.

The television show "America's Most Wanted" plans to feature Salas' story Saturday in an effort to help capture the fugitives, Chandler said.

McClendon, of Plainview, Texas, was charged with an open count of murder in March for his role in the January 2007 slaying of a merchant in Clovis.

The other at-large men and the charges against them are Victor Sotelo, 36, of Portales, aggravated assault; England, 29, of Clovis, tampering with evidence and being a felon in possession of a firearm; and Louis Chavez, 18, Albuquerque, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence, receiving stolen property and extreme cruelty to animals.