The Associated Press
New bloodhounds were brought in Monday to help on the third day of the search for John W. Parsons, Ross County Sheriff Ron Nichols said.
LATTAVILLE, Ohio- An escaped jail inmate charged with killing a police officer remained at large Tuesday, eluding authorities who have searched rural woods in southern Ohio on foot with dogs and by air.
Officers stopped searching on foot after dark and used a State Highway Patrol helicopter equipped with a thermal imaging camera designed to detect body heat. The foot search was to resume Tuesday morning.
Authorities believe they have Parsons, accused of killing a Chillicothe police officer last year, trapped in a 7-square-mile area of hills and woods.
Witnesses chased Parsons on Sunday after spotting him riding a stolen bicycle, but they backed off when he went into thick brush on a hillside, Nichols said.
Parsons, who escaped Saturday, may be in poor physical condition, likely going without food and water in the brutal heat, Nichols said.
“We have no reason to believe that he’s out of the area,” Nichols said. “His body’s going to start breaking down.”
On Monday, searchers reported finding fresh footprints consistent with the sole pattern of jail-issue shoes and a discarded shirt they believe belonged to the inmate.
Searchers also followed some “hot trails” identified by the dogs that suggested Parsons was darting in and out of the woods, the sheriff said.
The mix of heat and humidity in the woods made it feel like 112 degrees Monday afternoon, Nichols said. But with more officers from other jurisdictions joining the effort, leaders were able to pull searchers out at shorter intervals.
Parsons, 35, escaped from a jail recreation area around 1 p.m. Saturday using a rope of toilet paper and bed sheets, Nichols said. Parsons hid the makeshift rope behind a block he dug out of his cell wall, the sheriff said.
Parsons is charged with four counts of aggravated murder in the death of 42-year-old officer Larry Cox. A 19-year veteran of the Chillicothe force, Cox was shot in the neck April 21, 2005, during a pursuit of a man suspected of robbing a gas station and stealing a car. Cox was off duty and returning from his parents’ house when he came upon the chase.
Parsons also is charged with aggravated robbery, tampering with evidence and two counts of grand theft. He had been held at the Ross County jail for about a year.