Police arrest man for transporting escapee out of parish

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by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on February 21, 2010 at 7:28 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 22 at 6:26 PM

Update 3:30 p.m.: Police have still not caught escaped inmate Carlos Rodriguez, St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain said Monday in a press conference.

Strain said police know for a fact Rodriguez is in Jefferson Parish, because 20-year-old Jacob Jones, a Slidell resident, allegedly picked up Carlos Rodriguez in his car outside his jail and drove him to JP Saturday night. Strain said police arrested Jones on Monday.

Police charged Jones with aiding and abetting a criminal.

For more, click here for the update story

COVINGTON, La. – Hundreds of law enforcement officers continued searching for a suspected murderer, who escaped from the St. Tammany Parish Jail Saturday night.

Deputies say 39-year-old Carlos Alberto Rodriguez broke out of the facility about 10 p.m. by ‘defeating the structure.’
Sheriff Jack Strain said the escape was not pulled off in the same manner in which four suspects escaped from the same facility last summer.

Strain said it is believed that Rodriguez had an accomplice, perhaps on the inside and the outside. The person helping from within was apparently also supposed to get away, but he did not. Strain said that suspect is not involved in the same case that Rodriguez is involved with.

Rodriguez's last known address was on Colorado Street in Kenner. St. Tammany deputies said they notified law enforcement agencies throughout the region about the escape. They are asking anyone who sees Rodriguez to call 9-1-1.

Rodriguez had been in jail awaiting trial in a murder-for-hire case from last year.

"We got our helicopter involved in the search," said Capt. George Bonnett, spokesperson for the St. Tammany Sheriff's Office. "We got our K-9 units, the dogs, deputies on four-wheelers scouring the area."

Rodriguez is a suspected hitman, accused of killing paramedic Mario Scramuzza in a murder-for-hire plot last February.

Investigators say Scramuzza's wife, Gina, hired Rodriguez to kill her husband. Now, Rodriguez is on the run.

"We certainly set our perimeter up wide enough where we account for his best case scenario and the fastest that he can travel, but it really does depend on which way he goes," Capt. Bonnett said.

Around midnight, people who live near the jail began receiving an automated phone call, warning them about the escapee.

"We're in the hopes the man will be apprehended," said Covington resident Bob Gayle, who lives about a mile from the jail.

This is the second time in less than a year that an inmate has broken out of the St. Tammany Parish Jail. Last June, four inmates managed to escape. All were re-captured after a two-day manhunt.

"Is it coincidental that we've had two within a year's period of time? Possibly," Capt. Bonnett said. "I can tell you that the escapes, they're not related in the method used. So, in other words, the issues that were discovered during the last incident have been addressed and were not contributing factors to this one."

However, with this latest incident, neighbors said they are beginning to have doubts about security measures at the facility.
"It seems like they have some issues to resolve, don't they?" Gayle said.

"It's too close and it's too scary to be faced with this numerous times within a couple of months," said Covington resident Kim Foret, who lives within a mile of the jail.

"They need to fix the security of it. Use our tax money for something good and try to fix the jail to where this can't happen anymore."
 

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