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Inmate escapes from low-security work program at Utah County Jail

Posted at 9:36 PM, Jan 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 05:41:34-05

SPANISH FORK, Utah — Authorities are working to find and arrest an inmate who walked away from his work program at the Utah County Jail Saturday morning and was still on the loose as of Monday afternoon.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff's Office said the man was assigned to work in the jail's culinary program, which has a lower level of security, and he walked out through a staff area sometime around 4 a.m.

The inmate, 36-year-old Tyler Leon Shepard from Provo, has been charged with multiple felony counts of theft, assault, fleeing from police, and drug use. He has been convicted of some of these charges, while others are pending. He will face additional "serious" charges once he is brought back into custody, Cannon said.

Mugshot: Tyler Leon Shepard

Cannon added that while this was technically an escape, it was not from a secured area with bars or locked doors.

He told FOX 13 on Monday that they are not yet sure where Shepard went after leaving the jail. The sheriff's office has been working to contact any of his known associates or family members for leads on where he might have gone. Cannon said he took some jail property — bags of items that officers take with them to give to people experiencing homelessness such as blankets, food and toiletries.

Cannon also said they're also trying to identify any possible accomplices in his escape, and they will also face charges if found.

"It's very unlikely that he did this on his own or that he had a complete plan that didn't involve anybody else," he said. "Anybody else who aids him in this process of escaping will also be held liable once we determine who that might be."

The sheriff's office believes Shepard would have not fled very far since most of his family and associates are likely in Utah County or the surrounding area. However, Cannon said they always consider it a possibility that he fled further and they have informed other law enforcement agencies to keep a lookout. They may also send information to airports, bus stations and other places.

Anyone who sees Shepard or has any other information on his whereabouts is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately as this is considered an emergency.

This article will be updated with any developments to the situation.