Fifteen law enforcement agencies participated in the pursuit of an escaped inmate in southwest Missouri’s Lawrence County Monday evening.

Lawrence County Jail inmate Michael Jones is being held in Vernon County due to overcrowding (Image courtesy of Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office)

Michael Jones eluded officers while being transported back to Vernon County after a court appearance.  Lawrence County Sheriff Brad Delay says Jones broke away while he and two others were being secured into a vehicle.

“All three inmates were outside of our jail facility in the parking lot being loaded into the Vernon County transport van,” said Delay.  “The Vernon County deputy said Jones believed it was the right time to try and run.”

A news release said the Vernon County deputy was securing other inmates when “Jones, who was belly chained, took advantage of the deputy’s divided attention and fled the scene.”  The deputy chased after Jones, but lost sight of him.

Delay says numerous agencies quickly mobilized using various resources in pursuit of the inmate, who was taken into custody about a hour-and-a-half later.

“We had multiple agencies respond with dogs, infrared, drones, as well as personnel and aircraft.  A deputy located him about three-quarters of a mile from the jail hiding in some brush.”

Jones is incarcerated on a first-degree murder charge in Lawrence County, but is being held in Vernon County due to overcrowding.

Sheriff Delay noted the local community mobilized to assist in the chase after being alerted of the escape.  “Probably thanks to social media, people in Mount Vernon were all essentially assisting us looking for the subject,” Delay said.  “There were about half a dozen citizens that were close by that ran to the aid of the deputy. He (Jones) was taken into custody without incident.”

(For reference, Mount Vernon is in Lawrence County, which is roughly 75 miles south and east of Vernon County.)

The news release noted the 15 law enforcement agencies that mobilized to assist in pursuit of Jones included the Lawrence County Auxiliary, Mt. Vernon Police Department, Verona Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Department of Conservation, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Christian County Sheriff’s Office, Webster County Sheriff’s Office, Stone County Sheriff’s Office, Joplin Police Department, Wheaton Police Department, Miller Police Department, Monett Police Department and Aurora/Marionville Police Department.

Bailey Strohl of Missourinet affiliate KTTS/KSGF in Springfield provided content for this story. Missourinet media partner KOLR-TV also contributed.