The WAAY 31 I-TEAM is working to learn how the Alabama Department of Corrections lost track of a murderer for nearly 8 hours.
Early Tuesday morning, the department sent out an alert saying Steve Murphy, a convicted murderer from Colbert County, escaped from St. Clair Correctional Facility.
But later it was learned he didn’t escape. The facility lost track of him.
The department said Murphy escaped at 12:41 a.m. Tuesday, but it was four hours later before the public knew he was unaccounted for.
At 4:09 a.m., the department issued an escape alert for Murphy.
Then about 8 a.m., it was announced he had been found inside the prison.
The department said Murphy had no intention to escape.
A spokeswoman said the search began when Murphy wasn’t in his assigned location during a bed count. They haven’t said where they found him in the facility or why he was there instead of his assigned spot.
Here’s what they said when we asked:
"ADOC's Law Enforcement Services Division has not yet completed its investigation of this incident; therefore, we cannot provide specific details at this time," said Samantha Rose, public information specialist for the Alabama Department of Corrections.
The department said Murphy was in a medium security category. Inmates placed there are allowed to participate in treatment programs, work assignments and other activities within the prison.
But records show Murphy has escaped St. Clair Correctional Facility before, once in the 1990s and again in the early 2000s.
Also, the facility was mentioned several times in a US Department of Justice report saying conditions in Alabama prisons are so bad, they're considered cruel and unusual punishment.
The department is now under federal investigation.
Murphy is the second murderer the department of corrections has lost track of in less than 3 weeks.
Daniel Miner was recaptured after a stand-off involving the Morgan County Sheriff's Office, US Marshals, and the Madison County bomb squad.
Miner escaped from the Childersburg Community Work Center.
The department of corrections still hasn't told us how he did so or why a murderer was at a minimum security facility.
We're also working to learn more about a work release inmate arrested after a high-speed chase through Etowah and Marshall counties that sent him and 2 others to the hospital.
Boaz police told WAAY 31 that man, Jack Button, was a state work release inmate.
When we reported that, the department of corrections contacted us and told us that was wrong, and that it would be contacting the Boaz Police Department about issuing a correction.
But Assistant Police Chief Walter Colbert told us Tuesday police haven’t heard from the department of corrections.
Colbert said if he does get a call from the department, he’ll be asking why Button was listed as a work release inmate.
“They’ve got some ‘splaining to do,” Colbert said.
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