Update: The Alabama Department of Corrections now says Murphy did not escape.
The department says he never left St. Clair Correctional Facility, and the escape notice was issued out of an abundance of caution.
The department issued this statement:
In the early morning hours of March 10, 2020, staff at St. Clair Correctional Facility conducted a bed count and discovered inmate Steve Ray Murphy was not in his assigned location. Correctional staff immediately alerted the warden who subsequently notified the Alabama Department of Corrections’ (ADOC) Law Enforcement Services Division (LESD) of a possible escape. Following protocol and out of an abundance of caution to ensure public safety, the decision was made to issue an escape notice while a facility sweep was simultaneously conducted to locate Murphy.
The ADOC can confirm that inmate Murphy had no intention, nor took any action, to attempt an escape from St. Clair Correctional Facility. The facility remains secure and all inmates are accounted for.
Steve Ray Murphy is back in custody. He was recaptured by Alabama Department of Corrections officials around 7:53 a.m. Tuesday at the St. Clair Correctional Facility.
Officials say Murphy did not surrender, but there was no violence involved.
The Alabama Department of Corrections is searching for an escaped inmate.
Steve Ray Murphy, 64, escaped from the St. Clair Correctional Facility around 12:40 Tuesday morning. He is serving a life sentence after being convicted of murder in Colbert County. Murphy was sentenced in 1984. He is approximately 5'8" and 157 pounds with brown hair and hazel eyes.
The Department of Corrections said there are no details of the escape at this time. According to their website, Murphy has escaped from the St. Clair County facility twice, once in 1986 and again in 2001.
The St. Clair Correctional Facility is a state men's prison located in Springville, Alabama, which is more than 150 miles away from Colbert County.
According to the Department of Corrections, Murphy was placed in the medium security category, which is for inmates who demonstrate less severe behavioral problems. Inmates in this category are considered to be suitable for participation in treatment programs, work assignments and other activities within the prison. Supervision by armed correctional personnel is required when outside of the facility.
Court documents show Murphy was charged with attempted murder for shooting at a Muscle Shoals police officer. While in jail, he escaped. He pleaded guilty to both charges and was sentenced to life.
CNN reported in 2001 that Murphy and five other inmates escaped through an inoperative electric fence at the St. Clair Correctional Facility.
If you see him, contact law enforcement or the Alabama Department of Corrections at (800) 831-8825.