GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — An inmate who escaped from the Mesa County jail in September did so by cutting a hole in the roof of the exercise yard with hacksaw blades and shimmying down the side of the building on bed sheets he had tied together, according to an arrest affidavit unsealed late Wednesday.

Shane Johnson, 41, was awaiting sentencing on burglary and auto theft convictions when he escaped.

The affidavit says it took him about two minutes to climb down the side of the jail and jump into a vehicle that was waiting for him behind the building.

Prosecutors allege Johnson’s wife, Marilynne Johnson, was driving the getaway car.

The Johnsons were arrested Jan. 10 in Baja California, Mexico.

Shane Johnson remains in custody in Mexico on suspicion of burglarizing homes there. Marilynne Johnson, 47, is in the Mesa County jail on $100,000 bond on suspicion of aiding her husband’s escape.

Another inmate, Rodney Price, also has been charged with helping Shane Johnson escape. He remains in custody on unrelated charges.

The details of Johnson’s escape were contained in an arrest affidavit for his wife.

The document says detention staff believe Shane Johnson received two hacksaw blades in an envelope that was mailed to him in jail.

The envelope, which contained a hidden compartment, was found in Johnson’s cell after his escape. The package listed a return address in Colorado Springs; however, it wasn’t clear from the affidavit whether investigators know who sent it.

The affidavit said Shane Johnson used the blades to cut a hole in a portion of steel mesh roof in the jail’s exercise yard. Video then shows him climbing down the side of the building late at night.

Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey said the jail has since undergone a complete audit, and improvements have been made, including a new covering on the exercise yard and razor wire on the fence around the building.

“Our staff is taking this very personally, making sure that this never happens again,” he said.

Hilkey said the jail has no metal detector for scanning mail, but that may change. Currently, deputies take suspicious packages next door to be scanned at the Mesa County Justice Center.

Archived comments

It’s amazing to me that in this day and age we still can’t keep people from escaping jails.


2/5/2009 8:22:45 AM

I’d like to get a close look at that envelope.


2/5/2009 8:44:54 AM

Hacksaw in the mail, bedsheets?In these days of lasers, observation cameras, scanners, motion sensors and all the high tech gadgets, there is something comfortably “19th Century” about this story.

I can imagine Buster Keaton and the Grand Junction PDs response when they discovered he was gone.

2/5/2009 10:22:53 AM

He escaped to a Mexican jail? Bet he’ll be happy to get back to Mesa County. . .


2/5/2009 10:24:13 AM

Colorado is not known for their great jails.

Remember Ted Bundy escaped TWICE from Colorado jails and it cost several women their lives in Florida.

God Bless Amerika


2/5/2009 10:29:48 AM


There seems to be an extra word in the 12th paragraph.

“including a new the covering”

Since it is an AP story, I’m not sure who should have done the proofreading, but someone needs to be more careful.Please address not only this article, but the standards you set for your journalism staff.

Thank you.

2/5/2009 10:47:59 AM

The old saw in the cake routine!


2/5/2009 10:58:39 AM

They practically strip search an old guy with hip replacement at the airport and this guy gets two hacksaws in jail. Give me a break.

2/5/2009 11:29:52 AM

In jail in Mexico?

How much would the Mexicans take to keep him…

2/5/2009 11:51:18 AM

Ok, why would they grant that woman ANY bond, given that she has already (allegedly) shown the willingness and ability to facilitate escape from custody?Plus she has a husband in a Mexican jail just waiting for her help.


2/5/2009 2:36:37 PM

trappist99 – I couldn’t agree more!


2/5/2009 7:38:57 PM