SOMERVILLE, Tenn. — Less than a week after three teens escaped from the Wilder Youth Development Center in Fayette County, several more tried escaping the same facility.
Monday night the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the facility shortly after 10:45 p.m. that there were 4-6 youth attempting to escape.
According to the Fayette County Sheriff's Office, the juveniles had escaped their dorms into the interior yard and were trying to scale the outer security fence. Deputies who setup a perimeter found multiple detainees had left their dorm and were running around the yard area.
Deputies also found a rope made of sheets thrown over the exterior fence.
Center employees told deputies that one of the inmates had gained control of a set of keys from one of the guards.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol was called to help the Wilder employees catch the teens on the interior yard.
Just after midnight all of the detainees were secured and Deputies were able to clear the scene.
Two were charged by THP troopers with the escape attempt.
From Tennessee Department of Children's Services:
The below statement is from DCS Commissioner Jennifer Nichols:
“The department takes breaches in security at Wilder extremely seriously and DCS took immediate action following an incident involving four youth who exited their dorm Monday night but never escaped the campus. Two 18-year-olds were transported early Tuesday morning to the Fayette County Jail. The two other youth were transported to a juvenile detention facility. All are facing criminal escape charges for exiting their dorms, but not the campus. DCS is investigating the incident and continues to work closely with both the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.”
The commissioner also reached out directly to District Attorney Mark Davidson, who is considering additional charges.
The department has taken immediate steps to make the facility safer for youth, staff and the community:
- Increasing the security presence by adding private security guards this week to patrol the perimeter of the Wilder campus.
- Improving the lighting of the entire campus by adding portable flood lights starting Tuesday evening.
- Engaging the Department of Correction to send a team of security specialists to Wilder to audit and evaluate existing security protocols and internal controls related to key access and perimeter security at the facility.
- Contracting with the American Correctional Association to conduct a technical needs assessment to determine compliance with the ACA’s Performance-Based Standards for Juvenile Correctional Facilities.
- Planning to add mobile surveillance units while ongoing work continues with video experts to improve the existing network of security cameras.
- Working on ways to improve staff pay and policies to recruit and retain dedicated security officers at Wilder.
DCS was also notified today that federal marshals arrested one of the three youths who escaped last week. That youth was caught in Chattanooga and is now custody. Last week, another youth was brought back into custody, and law-enforcement officers continue to search for the third one.