Manhunt continues in Vinton after inmate escapes

Published: Feb. 4, 2010 at 3:11 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 4, 2010 at 10:31 AM CST
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UPDATE: Officials from Phelps Correctional are still searching for Jamaul LeBleu, who walked away from a work detail in Vinton on Wednesday.

Patrols are still in the area searching northeast of the racetrack in Vinton.

Officials still believe that he is in the area, but no sightings have been reported since Wednesday.


By Lee Peck - bio | email

VINTON, LA (KPLC) - With an escaped inmate on the loose, the town of Vinton is on edge. Authorities say Phelps Correctional inmate Jamaul LeBleu walked off from a work detail at about 1:40 Wednesday afternoon.

"Police, sheriff's - all of them, the ones from the prison they got here it took no time," said Vinton resident Edmond Southern.

As a precaution the Calcasieu Parish School Board placed Vinton Middle School on lockdown and advised buses not to pick up students from Vinton Elementary, Middle & High School.

"I know they're doing it for the safety of the children. Because you don't know the type of person that escaped. So it's all for the safety, but I know he is going to get caught," said Southern.

LeBleu was spotted by witnesses about a block away from Vinton Middle School.

"He took off running and me and my friend got in my truck and we followed and he came running around right here to this truck and when he seen that I had stopped he got out and ran over to my truck," explained one eyewitness who did not want to go on camera. He describes LeBleu as desperate. "He told he was 19-years-old and he was trying to get to his grandmother's funeral."

Good try, but they weren't fooled. They said the Phelps Correctional Center pants and gray sweat shirt were a dead giveaway. They put a call into police and LeBleu was once again on the run.

After a second sighting in a nearby trailer park authorities have zeroed in on a 2 to 3 mile radius off Big Woods Road bringing in the dogs. As specially trained blood hounds take to the fields and woods just beyond the cow pasture, residents in the area are on guard.

"I have a camper at my house and there was a convict that had gotten loose some years ago and got in someone's camper in our area... So yes, I'm going home to check my camper and lock it up," said Vinton resident Kathy Wilson.

It's not long that evidence turns up. Agents say LeBleu ditched that sweat shirt. The dogs come back to get a sniff and once again are on his trail. And with the possibility of more rain and much cooler temperatures, chances are Jamaul LeBleu won't enjoy his first night of freedom.

LeBleu was serving four years for simple burglary. He stands 5'5, and weighs approximately 160 pounds. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact authorities.

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