A group of Alabama inmates escaped a county jail by covering the numbers of an outside door with peanut butter, leading a new jail employee to believe it was a door leading to cells, a sheriff told reporters.
"He thought he was opening the cell door for this man to go in his cell, but in fact he opened up the outside door," Walker County Sheriff James Underwood said about the jail employee.
All but one escapee, Brady Andrew Kilpatrick, were captured within hours, and Underwood said he believed Kilpatrick would be caught by day's end.
Kilpatrick, 24, had been jailed on drug charges, the sheriff's office said on its Facebook page. The recaptured inmates had been jailed on a variety of charges, including two for attempted murder.
The inmates' absence was discovered Sunday evening.
"Anytime you have a jailbreak, it's cause for concern," Mayor David O'Mary told USA TODAY. "But at least by morning there was only one escapee still out there, and was being held on drug charges and was not considered by law enforcement to be dangerous."
Still, O'Mary acknowledged that the city of 15,000 people was on edge during the manhunt. He credited social media with keeping residents informed as, one by one, the inmates were recaptured throughout the night and early morning.
"We don’t have a local TV station here," O'Mary said. "The way the information moved across social media was a big help. My wife and I were even following it."
A $500 reward was offered for information leading to Kilpatrick's arrest, the sheriff's office said.
Jasper police and other local authorities were assisting in the manhunt, along with the state Law Enforcement Agency's aviation unit. Jasper is about 40 miles northwest of Birmingham.
"We ask that downtown residents stay indoors and turn on all outdoor lighting," Jasper police said Sunday night on Facebook.
Larry Inman Jr., 29, and Ethan Howard Pearl, 24, were recaptured at a gas station off Interstate 65 a little more than 10 minutes apart early Monday, Al.com reported. Details of the other captures were not immediately revealed.
The county jail, which opened in 1998, was designed to hold 250 inmates. It was not clear how many inmates are currently housed there.
O'Mary credited the close relationship between the county and his city with aiding the manhunt.
"The jail is only a couple blocks south of the Jasper Police Department," O'Mary said. "As soon as we got word of this we put all our people on high alert."
© 2017 USATODAY.COM