A manhunt was under way Sunday afternoon and into the evening after a jailbreak at the Faulkner County Detention Center Unit II facility on South German Lane near the YBMA Fairgrounds.
According to Maj. Andy Shock of the Faulkner County Sheriff’s Office, 46-year-old Ricky Dale Ford escaped the facility's recreation yard and climbed over an outer chain link fence topped with razor wire at about 3:30 p.m.
Deputies and Conway Police Department patrolmen had set up a perimeter in the area of the jail and at other areas Sunday afternoon, Shock said.
A search dog was brought in from the Maumelle Department of Public Safety, but the dog hadn’t picked up a scent trail as of about 5 p.m., according to Shock.
FCSO Chief Deputy Jerry Grosss said Ford was barefoot and was wearing black-and-white prison clothes when he escaped.
Ford was arrested Wednesday after being stung between 50 and 100 times by honey bees while allegedly attempting to steal items including chainsaws and string trimmers from a home on Billy Goat Mountain. He may still have whelps from these stings, according to Gross.
Shock said he wasn’t aware Sunday of Ford’s criminal history, but said only non-violent offenders are allowed access to the Unit II recreation yard. He also said he wasn’t sure who was supposed to be watching the yard, but that it "will definitely be looked into."
Jail chief administrator Capt. John Randall said after reviewing video of the escape captured by Unit II's security camera system that Ford systematically pulled away a section of recreation yard fencing riveted to a steel pole that forms part of a door frame built into the fence.
"He kept going by, kind of peeling away at the fence," Randall said Sunday evening. "He was walking the perimeter of the yard and every time he would make a loop he would pull at the fence, pulling the rivets away from the fence."
Randall said a jail officer had warned Ford to stop after the suspicious activity was observed on a security camera monitor. After this Ford seemed to have compelled other inmates in the yard to stand in front of the section of fence, Randall said, obscuring it from the camera's view.
After it seemed the suspicious activity was continuing, Randall said, an officer was again sent to the yard, but Ford had already slipped through the gap and scaled the outer razor wire-topped fence.
Randall said a lack of manpower at the jail and "inattention to duty" were to blame. At the time of the escape, he said, only two jail officers were on duty to oversee the jail's 218 male inmates.
Ford is the fifth person to escape from Unit II since 2007, Randall said. The first three escaped over a 6-foot outer fence that has since been replaced with the 13-foot fence that Ford was able to climb over. The fourth escapee also escaped through the recreation yard fence, Randall said.
In May of 2008 three inmates escaped from the detention center's Unit I facility, which is behind the Faulkner County Courthouse.
Ford is described as a white male about 6 feet tall with dark hair and a "mullet" haircut. Anyone with information as to his whereabouts is urged to call 9-1-1.