Thur 6:20 pm: Troopers search for inmate who escaped Ohio prison

COLUMBUS – An inmate serving time for kidnapping, rape and other crimes at Mansfield Correctional Institution was discovered missing during a head count Wednesday night – his 47th birthday.

Authorities searching for an escaped inmate today declined to discuss exactly how or when James David Myers, formerly of Mogadore, slipped away from the north-central Ohio prison where he worked in the maintenance area. No one else was missing.

The facility about 60 miles north of Columbus houses about 2,500 inmates and was operating under stepped-up security Thursday, with escorts required each time an inmate was moved, said JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Authorities said a Tallmadge woman listed as Myers’ victim was alerted and put under law enforcement protection while investigators tried to find the missing inmate and figure out exactly how he escaped.

“We certainly don’t want to see something like this happen at our institution or at any other institution, and we’ll do everything we can do to prevent that from happening again,” said warden Terry Tibbals.

Tibbals wouldn’t comment on the types of equipment or tools Myers might have been able to access through his job in the maintenance area. He also wouldn’t discuss whether Myers previously tried to escape.

The last escape from the facility was in December 2011, when an inmate who was outside of the prison walked away, Smith said.