Special Coverage: Escaping from the Augusta YDC
By: Kara Apel Email
By: Kara Apel Email

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- This isn't the first time the Augusta Youth Development Campus has seen problems.

Last year, 19-year-old Jade Holder was killed during a brutal beating inside the facility's walls. Since then, Michael Everidge has been convicted of his murder. News 12 launched an investigation into the facility and found out many disturbing things about facility operations.

Now, after five inmates escaped from the Augusta Youth Development Campus on Friday, Oct. 19, many questions remain unanswered. News 12 will continue investigating what happened that night.


FRIDAY, OCT. 19

The following is a preliminary timeline of events that was released by the Department of Juvenile Justice. As the investigation continues, times could be altered.

8:40 p.m.
Juvenile Corrections officer reports five detainees are missing from DJJ housing unit.

8:45 p.m.
An off-duty Juvenile Corrections officer reports seeing five of the inmates on the side of the road.

9:07 p.m.
The director of the YDC orders an internal facility search and an emergency head count. The DJJ says that the current policy requires staff members to search internally before extending the search beyond facility, as the inmates could be hiding somewhere on the 456 acres and 23 buildings on campus. If they still are not found, staff members then can call local law enforcement to help with an external search.

9:17 p.m.
The internal search confirms five inmates are missing. The search continues.

10 p.m.
The YDC staff figures out how the inmates escaped and begin an external ground search.

Approximately 10:05 p.m.
YDC staff notifies local law enforcement of escaped inmates.

10:45 p.m.
Local law enforcement officers arrive at the facility and begin to assist in the search.


SATURDAY, OCT. 20

8:20 a.m.
The DJJ sends out a news release saying four of the inmates had been taken back into custody Friday night.

"Richmond County sheriff’s deputies responded to a stolen vehicle report and apprehended three of the youth following a brief car chase. Two other occupants ran into nearby woods. One of those youth later surrendered to a Department of Corrections canine team. No one was hurt in the round-up. None of the youth are from the Augusta area."

The other inmate is still missing at this point.

1:30 p.m.

A BOLO is released on the missing inmate, Wayne Johnson. Read more here.

6 p.m.
News 12 talks to Keiondra Everidge, mother of Michael Everidge, who was sentenced on Friday to 17 years in the death of 19-year-old inmate Jade Holder's murder last year.

"If this is a safe environment and this is somewhere these kids want to rehabilitate, then why are they escaping?" Everidge said. Read more here.


SUNDAY, OCT. 21

2 p.m.
The last escaped inmate, 18-year-old Wayne Johnson, is taken into custody. News 12 also learns another teen involved in the escape, 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson, is related to Wayne. Read more here.

The facility remains on lockdown the rest of the night.


FRIDAY, OCT. 26

The DJJ holds a news conference and announces the following:

Augusta YDC Director Ronald Brawner and Assistant Director Melvin Womble have been placed on disciplinary suspension followed by departmental probation.

The shift supervisor, Sgt. Dorothy Blair, has been suspended with pay and put on administrative leave. She is accused of "failure to perform emergency procedural duties as the shift officer on duty at the time of the escape."

Two officers, Dominique Harris and Marc Johnson, have been suspended with pay. They are being investigated in connection to the "improper population count" where the escape started.

Cpt. Ricky Smiley has accepted voluntary demotion to lieutenant and a reduction in pay with his connection to the incident.

“We will not tolerate policy violations that breach the security of the Augusta YDC, compromise the safety of the youth we serve, the integrity of this agency or the safety of the public,” said Buckner in a news release. “We have made many personnel changes at Augusta YDC during my term, and it’s not over yet."

Read more from the news conference here.


WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31

The Augusta Youth Development Campus has a new acting director.
Melvin Womble had been the YDC's assistant director of security since March 2012. He is taking the place of Ronald Brawner. Read more here.

News 12's Sheli Muniz sits down with former YDC Interim Director Gary Jones to talk about Brawner's resignation. "It was obvious that the youth were running the facility from the moment that I walked in there," Jones said. Read more here.


THURSDAY, NOV. 15

The three teenagers accused of breaking out of the Augusta Youth Development Campus nearly a month ago were in front of a juvenile court judge on Thursday morning.

The three youths, two 16-year-olds and one 15-year-old, came in with their attorneys and a number of guards. Those who saw the proceedings say there was heavy security at the request of the new director. Read more here.


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