They all admit they saw Clancy Starling's entire escape from the Chesapeake City Jail unfold before their eyes.
“They were messing with the fence but I didn’t think nothing of it. He was still inside the fence, nothing was broken and nobody was trying to get out,” said Keith Mcadoo.
“It was barbed wire fence, so he tried to go up top first, and that didn’t work. He thought about it, then started trying to go through the bottom, and got underneath,” said Michael Darnell.
But when it comes to their involvement...
“I didn’t know it was going down. I didn't know nothing about it,” said Thomas Evans.
“I’m not in here for enough time to help somebody escape, or myself escape. I’m innocent,” said Darnell.
“I didn’t have anything to do with helping him escape. I was in the gym when it happened,” said Mcadoo.
We asked if anyone actually physically helped Starling escape, and all of the inmates said he did it all on his own. Darnell says the only thing they are guilty of is not alerting deputies.
“We was outside, I think the whole block should be charged if that’s the case, because we all knew he was gone,” said Darnell.
Besides their innocence, there is another thing these inmates all agree on--that the two guards in charge of the prisoners were inside, not watching like they were supposed to.
Darnell says the escape attempt took over 30 minutes, with Starling even getting stuck on top of the barbed wire, but he never got caught because the deputies never checked on them.
“All of us were out there. I saw him leave, but I’m not the police. I’m not going to tell them he left. If they were out there like they were supposed to be, maybe it wouldn’t have happened,” said Darnell.
Chesapeake sheriff's investigators agree. They fired both of those deputies Wednesday morning after the completion of an internal investigation. They say in addition to not watching the inmates, the two guards also violated protocol by not performing a headcount before bringing the prisoners back inside.
“If those policies had been followed, this escape would have never happened,” said Major David Hackworth.
As for the inmates, they now face five additional years in prison for supposedly helping a man that is still out free on the streets.
“I don’t understand, just want to go back home, be with my family, work and be a normal person,” said Evans.