Fifth inmate charged with escape

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com
A Carter County Jail inmate has been charged with attempted escape following four others charged with the same offense in the last two weeks.
Gary Allen Bowers, 22, 900 E. Elk Ave., was charged with attempted escape on Friday evening after he was found in the ceiling of the detention facility.
"On (Friday at 7:30 p.m.), a noise was heard in the ceiling above F Block," Carter County Sheriff's Department Deputy Dennis Leonard states in his report. "Upon entering the block, a head count was conducted and Gary Bowers was discovered in the ceiling. He was apprehended without incident and charged with attempted escape."
Bowers was being held in the detention facility on warrants charging him with violation of probation and failure to appear in court. He is scheduled to appear in General Sessions Court on Oct. 10.
This is the third such incident to occur at the detention facility in the last two weeks.
On Sept. 23, two other inmates were found in the ceiling area of the facility. Wade Evan Hampton, age 37, of 540 Cloudland Road, Roan Mountain, and Ralph Wayne Whitehead, age 24, of 401 Rittertown Road, Hampton, were charged with attempted escape.
On Sept. 26, just three days after the prior attempt, two other inmates at the jail were charged with the same offense. In that incident, Joshua David Whitehead, 25, 227 Centerview Drive, and Miguel Alvarez, 22, of 221 Ridge Hollow Road, Erwin, were charged with attempted escape.
All of the inmates are being charged with attempted escape following a decision made by Carter County Sheriff John Henson after a similar incident occurred on July 9, 2002. In that incident, a jailer heard what was described as "digging" noises around 11:30 p.m. in the D-Block area of the detention facility.
When jailers entered D-Block, they found two male inmates leaving the shower area, and when they looked inside, they discovered a female inmate standing in one of the shower stalls wearing nothing but her bra and underwear.
While jailers were removing the woman from the men's block of the jail, she advised the jailer that one of the male inmates had entered the women's block of the jail, G-Block. Jailers then entered G-Block and discovered a man in the ceiling area above the toilet in the block's day room.
The female subject involved in the incident told jailers that nothing sexual had occurred between the male inmates and herself.
After the incident in July 2002, Henson stated that anyone who was caught in the ventilation system or the ceiling at the jail would be charged with attempted escape.