Jail break deja vu

2 inmates escape from Benewah County Jail

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COEUR d'ALENE - A pair of inmates who broke out of Benewah County Jail in St. Maries early Thursday made their escape the old-fashioned way, by digging through the jail house wall and using a rope made of sheets to scale their way down to the ground.

Todd E. Miller, 40, and Tyler J. Walton, 20, were apprehended in Worley several hours after their escape, following a multi-agency search.

It's not the first time a jail break has happened this way in Benewah County.

"This is the fourth escape we've had since I've been here, three by the same method," Benewah County Prosecutor Doug Payne said.

Last year, Jesse Wilkenson, who was in custody in Benewah County on a burglary conviction, escaped twice, once in July and again in September, and at least one of those times, he went through the wall.

Payne confirmed that Miller and Walton were being held in the same area that Wilkenson was in when he broke out last summer.

"There has been a plan in place to put up a steel liner to cover the wall," Payne said. "The problem is, the bricks are sound, but the mortar is soft."

The jailhouse was built in 1920.

Miller, and Walton were last seen in their cell shortly before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

An hour later, they were gone.

The Benewah County Sheriff's Department issued an escape alert at 2:30 a.m.

Less than an hour later, a Coeur d'Alene Tribal officer observed a man running away from a car outside the Smoke Shop in Worley, about 25 miles from the jail and across the Kootenai County line. The officer approached the vehicle and saw a pair of orange pants belonging to the Benewah County Sheriff's Office inside.

The vehicle was determined to have been stolen from St. Maries.

Kootenai County deputies, Idaho State Police and Spokane County's Air One helicopter converged on the area. Miller was taken into custody at 6:33 a.m. and Walton was picked up an hour later after tribal officers found him hiding in some brush.

The suspects were booked into Kootenai County jail and charged with escape.

Miller was in custody in Benewah County on charges of suspected grand theft and eluding police officers. Walton was on felony probation for a prior burglary conviction, and was being held for probation violations including using marijuana and methamphetamine, associating with known criminals and absconding.

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