Four men being held at a central Georgia prison — including one on murder charges — escaped through a damaged window and a cut fence early Monday morning, authorities said.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis identified the four as Joey Fournier, Marc Kerry Anderson, Johnifer Dernard Barnwell and Chavis Demaryo Stokes.
At a news conference Monday, Davis said prison staff noticed a breach in the perimeter fence around 6 a.m. After watching video footage, they discovered that the four men were able to escape through a window in a second-floor common room and then through the surrounding fence. 3:30 a.m., he said.
“They could be anywhere,” the sheriff said, adding that he was not aware of any connection between the men before they entered the jail and did not know if they had stayed together once they had escaped.
Video footage also showed a blue Dodge Challenger that was just outside the prison earlier in the night and appeared to show someone tampering with the fence.
That person then brought items into the closed area and the sheriff said investigators believe those items were used to help the men escape. He did not specify what these objects were.
Davis said it’s unclear whether the four men left the jail in that car or another vehicle or left on foot, but authorities would like to speak with the driver of the Challenger.
Local, state and federal authorities are searching for the four men in what the sheriff called an “all-hands-on-deck situation.”
They are asking anyone with information on their whereabouts to contact the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office or Macon Regional Crime Stoppers.
A $1,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the men’s whereabouts.
The sheriff’s office provided descriptions of the four men:
Fournier, 52, is a white man with gray hair and blue eyes who is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds.
He was being held on suspicion of murder after being accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend in February 2022, according to local media.
Anderson, 24, is a black man with dreadlocks, is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 165 pounds. He is charged with aggravated assault.
Barnwell, 37, is a black man with braids, is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 190 pounds. He was being held by the U.S. Marshals Service on drug-related charges.
Stokes, 29, is a black man with short black hair, is 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He was detained for possession of a firearm and drug trafficking.
Fournier and Anderson did not have attorneys listed in online court records.
An attorney appointed for Stokes did not immediately respond Monday to an email seeking comment on the charges against him and the alleged escape.
A lawyer for Barnwell said he had no comment.
“Right now, my goal is to get these individuals back into prison, and we’re going to dissect what happened and resolve this as we move forward,” Davis said.
Sometimes day rooms aren’t locked at night, but that’s usually not a problem because inmates are supposed to be in bed in another part of the prison, Davis said.
He said they were investigating how the men gained access to the common room.
At the time of the escape, fewer than 10 people worked at the jail, which houses “just over 800 inmates,” the sheriff said.
Ideally, there would be 30 people working per shift, but it’s been a long time since they’ve had that kind of staffing, and sometimes they have only six or eight people, Davis said.
Staffing isn’t the only problem, he said.
The 43-year-old prison is “bearing down on us” and the escape took place in the oldest, most dilapidated part of the prison, Davis said.
He said an internal investigation would determine exactly what led to the escape: “We’re going to look deeper into what happened last night.”