Jason Laird charged with attempting to escape jail

Jason Laird

Jason Laird, a 43-year-old Gainesville man who led officers on a cat-and-mouse chase for over a month early this year, has found himself in more hot water. 

Laird is now charged with attempting to escape from the Ozark County Jail. The class E felony joins a list of other charges filed against him in open cases, including operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, two counts of resisting arrest, trespassing, domestic assault, burglary and stealing two firearms.

He is being held on a $10,000 cash-only bond in the case. Public defender Lauren Kate Welborn has entered her appearance as his attorney.

Since most cases have been suspended by the Missouri Supreme Court due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unclear when Laird will appear in court on the new charges. 

According to the probable cause statement written by Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Hannaford, deputies and jail personnel were first alerted to Laird’s attempted escape during a search of jail pod C around noon Saturday, April 4. 

The report says officers found two razor blades hidden in an empty electric outlet, and two screws and a large metal spring with one end straightened away from the main coil hidden inside the cell’s toilet. The tip of the straightened edge of the spring had been ground or rubbed on another coarse object to form a crude point, the statement says. 

“Inside the shower area next to Mr. Laird’s cell I observed large amounts of grout removed from in between the cinder blocks,” Hannaford wrote. “In between a certain section of the cinder blocks there was a hole completely through the pod wall into another space, and a section of ceiling was removed in the shower area as well. A portion of the concrete board was removed, exposing the popcorn ceiling with a hole through the ceiling.”

Deputies interviewed another inmate who had also been held in pod C, and that individual reportedly provided a written statement.

“Inmate wrote in a statement [that] Mr. Laird started working on the ceiling then moved to the shower using the mop bucket handle and spring as tools shortly after he arrived in the Ozark County Jail,” the statement says. 

At 11:45 p.m. that night, Ozark County Deputy Jeff Lane and jail officer Beau Reeves entered the holding cell to check the condition of a previously damaged window. During the course of the check, Lane noticed that the ceiling tile above the window in that cell was missing. Reeves checked underneath the bedding mat and found the missing tile Laird had allegedly removed when he was in the holding cell, the report says. 

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423