Residents Receive Lack Of Warning About Escaped Decatur County Jail Inmate

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LEON, Iowa - On Friday, Decatur County Jail inmate James “Mick” Murphy managed to escape and has been on the run ever since. The Decatur County Sheriff’s Department is not releasing how the 43 – year – old escaped but say he was last seen headed south from the Decatur County courthouse shortly after 8 p.m. Friday.

Those living in the Leon said the lack of warning from local authorities put its residents at risk, many of them not knowing a dangerous man was roaming free.
Resident said they heard from an officer claiming the department was too busy searching for the inmate to notify the town’s residents. Jacki Legg said she saw deputies driving around town warning people.

“They were stopping people outside when this occurred. They said, ‘Get inside there’s a convict loose.’ That’s how they were notifying people.”

Legg said the officer’s method weren't efficient. She said many in the town heard of the information on Saturdays morning’s news, nearly 12 hours after Murphy’s escape.

“My thought is, ‘wouldn’t it have taken less time to come up with a new release and send it out?,’” says Legg.

City councilwoman, Sharon South wasn’t notified of the escapee either but says the city can’t afford an updated alert system. Currently the county only alerts residents about severe weather and traffic accidents via text message. South says something should be done, "I feel like there should be some sort of a system but I don’t know exactly what it should be,” but questions if an escape of an inmate is information people should know.

More About Murphy

Prior to his escape, Murphy had been held in the Decatur County Jail for the past four months. According to Iowa Courts online he was charged with kidnapping and sex abuse on May 9th . Murphy appeared in court Friday morning where he changed his initial not guilty plea to guilty. A sentencing date is yet to be set.

Court records also show Murphy pled guilty to felony drug charges out of Marion County in 2003. He also pled guilty to felony drug charges in 1998 out of Louisa County. Authorities are not saying if they suspect he may try to return to either county.

At the time of his escape, Murphy was wearing orange jail shorts, an orange t-shirt and grey socks. Murphy is a white male with brown hair and hazel eyes. He is 6-foot one inch tall and weighs 180-pounds.

Authorities say he is considered dangerous. If you have any information or see Murphy, call 9-1-1 or the Decatur County Sheriff’s office at 641- 446 – 4111.


  • Hugo S LaVia

    LOVE that headline. How do you “receive a lack” of something? What’s wrong with, ‘residents don’t get enough warning?’ Too simple? Too straight-forward? Too accurate?

  • JstLvng

    I had plenty of information about the convict on the lose. im in Polk County. People need to be more proactive about their surroundings. But also, maybe a reverse 911 call, or text sent out. or door to door knocking. I think in this case bringing in another County’s officers to help get the word out is a good idea. But in the long run it is up to you to keep yourself and family out of harms way. be proactive in news and weather events around you. their are plenty of sources these days.

  • Ruth Adams

    Okay I have a suggest, many homes now have a device known as a “weather radio” besides getting weather alerts it also gives out amber alerts. Why couldn’t it also give out a “loose criminal alert.” Obviously something more professional in name is needed but you get my drift.

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