April 5, 2001 (ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.) – The daughters of an ill and aging convicted killer have been charged with helping him escape from a minimum-security geriatric unit.
Lori and Rene Vernon and Chris Sparks, all of Albuquerque, were arrested Wednesday. Jerry Vernon, 64, who escaped last week from the prison at Los Lunas, is still missing, said Gerges Scott, a spokesman for the New Mexico Corrections Dept.
Sparks was allegedly hired to drive the get-away car for a fee of $5,000, Sgt. Royleen Ross-Weaver. The three suspects were scheduled for arraignment later this afternoon.
Scott said the department is trying to determine how Vernon was able to break out of the unit, a new facility designed for inmates with chronic health problems. The unit on the grounds of a minimum-security farm for inmates nearing release has two razor-wire fences.
Vernon has a heart condition and diabetes. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting a friend in 1989. Prosecutors said that Vernon believed the victim had stolen drugs from him.