James Rynerson didn’t so much escape from jail as walk out freely due to a mistake.
But his wife wouldn’t let him become a fugitive.
Mesa County Sheriff’s Office
As the Daily Sentinel reports, the 38-year-old from Mesa County, Colorado was in jail, awaiting trial on charges of trespass, disorderly conduct, and menacing. For a short time, Rynerson shared a cell with a man named Marvin March, who was due to be released on May 21.
March was moved out of their cell before his release date. However, the jail’s housing list wasn’t updated before the release date arrived. So when jailers arrived to tell March he was able to leave, the only person they found was Rynerson.
Rynerson didn’t correct the guards who assumed he must be March and gave him March’s clothing and debit card. Rynerson signed March’s name on the release forms, and no one at the jail thought to check Rynerson’s ID wristband against the name on the forms.
That’s how Rynerson found himself unexpectedly free on the evening of May 21. So he did what most men would do in his situation … he went home to see his wife.
Rynerson’s wife was surprised to discover the husband she thought was still in jail standing in the garage at her apartment complex. He explained that he had been accidentally released after being mistaken for someone else. But if he expected her to let him stay, he was in for a surprise.
Meanwhile, the staff at the Mesa County jail discovered the mistake when the real March asked a deputy when he was going to be released.
Rynerson’s wife told her husband that he had to go back. And she even drove him back to the jail herself. According to the Daily Signal, the subsequent court records stated:
[Rynerson’s wife] told Inmate Rynerson he needed to turn himself in after he informed her he had been released under another person’s name,. [She] convinced Inmate Rynerson to go back, and personally drove him back to the Mesa County Detention Facility.
Two hours after he walked out of jail, Rynerson was back. Rynerson’s wife later returned March’s jacket and debit card to Mesa County deputies, as her husband had left them at her house before returning to jail.
The Mesa County Sheriff’s office is investigating the series of mistakes that led to Rynerson’s release. They say that the failure to check Rynerson’s photo and wristband against March’s release papers was a violation of policy.
Sgt. Henry Stoffel praised Rynerson’s wife for persuading him to return to jail. He told the Daily Signal:
“We appreciate that she recognized his error and recommended that he turn himself in before it became something more significant.”
Rynerson’s two-hour jailbreak has resulted in a series of additional charges, including escape, criminal impersonation, forgery, and theft.