Officials: ‘Critical oversights’ allowed juveniles to escape downtown Nashville facility

Local News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Four teenagers who escaped from the Juvenile Detention Center in downtown Nashville over the weekend were able to convince a staff member to help them get to an unsecured basement, which allowed them to exit the facility, officials said Monday.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Kathryn Sinback, the Court Administrator for Davidson County Juvenile Court, revealed the results of an internal investigation into the events leading up to the escape Saturday night.

According to Sinback, at approximately 9:44 p.m., 16-year-old Decorrius Wright, 17-year-old Morris Marsh, 17-year-old Brandon Caruthers and 15-year-old Calvin Howse escaped from the detention facility.

MORE: Search continues for ‘dangerous’ teen escapees in Nashville

Sinback said an internal investigation determined the four teenagers were outside their cells after the usual 9 p.m. bedtime because a supervisor had asked them to help clean the inside of the facility.

While out of their cells, Sinback explained there was a disturbance in another part of the facility and the four were left unsupervised.

The youth were reportedly able to enter an elevator that had been left ajar by a staff member. Sinback revealed they were then able to convince a staff member to make a call to Master Control and request the elevator be sent to the basement, which is an unsecured area youth are not permitted to access.

The staff member in Master Control sent the elevator to the unsecured basement area, Sinback explained. When the juveniles exited the elevator in the basement, they were apparently able to enter a public area of Juvenile Court and run out the front door of the Juvenile Justice Center.

RELATED: Prosecutors work to determine if co-defendant in Nashville musician’s murder helped in escape

Davidson County Juvenile Court oversees the Juvenile Detention Center, which houses youth awaiting trial in Nashville. It is managed by Youth Opportunity Investments, a private detention contractor.

According to the contractor, the supervisor on duty notified the facility director that the juveniles were missing at 9:57 p.m. The supervisor then drove around in his car looking for the four teens and did not contact Metro police until 10:22 p.m.

Investigators released the audio of that call Monday afternoon.

(911 call regarding escapees / Courtesy: Nashville Emergency Communications)

Sinback added: “The Davidson County Juvenile Court is presently conducting an exhaustive review of this matter. Several immediate measures have been taken by the contractor, Youth Opportunity Investments, such as limiting access to the facility elevator to supervisory staff. [The company] has also placed several staff members on administrative leave while they investigate critical oversights that made the escape possible. Juvenile Court is closely monitoring the contractor’s response to this incident.”

“Juvenile Court will remain completely engaged in all efforts to return the youth to detention, to determine exactly how this happened, and to ensure that this type of incident does not happen again,” Sinback said in the statement.

The four teenage escapees should be considered dangerous, police explained.

Wright is accused of shooting and killing Kyle Yorlets, 24, on Torbett Street in February. Marsh is suspected of killing Charles Easley, 19, on Lemont Drive in April.

The other escapees, Caruthers and Howse, have armed robbery and gun possession charges in their criminal history. Caruthers had been transferred to adult court on an Aug. 2018 armed robbery case from Apache Trail in South Nashville. Howse was last arrested Nov. 21 on Dickerson Pike on charges of auto theft and gun possession.

Anyone who sees them is asked to call 615-862-8600 immediately.

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