County to look for new transport company after prisoner’s escape

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BELTON, Texas (KWTX) Bell County officials will apparently be looking for a new prisoner transportation company after a man charged with capital murder in the deaths of a Temple man and woman escaped from guards as he was being returned to Central Texas.

(File)

Cedrick Marks, 44, was arrested on Jan. 8 in Kent County, Mich., on a Temple burglary warrant and was charged Sunday with capital murder in the Jan. 3 deaths of his ex-girlfriend Jenna Scott, 28, and her friend Michael Swearingin, 32.

Marks escaped from a Texas Prisoner Transportation Service van Sunday morning as he was being returned to Bell County and was free for about nine hours until he was recaptured.

He was able to flee after the two guards transporting him decided to stop at a McDonald’s in Conroe to get something to eat.

Bell County has had a contract with the prisoner transportation company since 2016, but officials began reviewing the agreement after Marks’ escape.

“We've been in some conversations with them or correspondence over the past few days” Bell County Judge David Blackburn said.

The county’s current annual contract expires in August, but renewing might not even be an option.

“We received notice this week that the company was closing their doors and we'll be looking for a new transport company immediately and that process is underway right now, we expect proposal for bids to be in the works,” Blackburn said.

A call requesting a comment from Texas Prisoner Transportation Service was not returned Wednesday.

Since entering into the agreement, the company has transported more than 200 Bell County inmates a year at an annual cost of $50,000 to $60,000.

Any contract with a new firm will be closely supervised, Blackburn says.

“We will work with our due diligence, we will work with the sheriff's department make sure terms and provisions for the company are safe, efficient and timely movement of prisoners.”