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Caught: Police Nab Three Escaped Prisoners Near Poplar Bluff

The search is over for three prisoners who escaped the Butler County jail Monday night after they slipped through the jail’s ceiling tiles.

Police found Matthew Cook, Rodney Green and KadeStringfellow hiding in a salvage yard about four miles east of Poplar Bluff. The trio got out of jail just before midnight on Monday night. They were caught at 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon.

Tracking dogs and a tip to check the junk yard led police to their whereabouts. Butler County sheriff Mark Dobbs estimated about 40 officers surrounded their hideout and arrested the men without incident.

“With them being so bewildered, so out of sorts from the weather, not having any shoes, not having any jackets, I don’t think they had any fight in them,” Dobbs said. “They’re not real big guys that will physically fight you. But if they get ahold of weapons, they’re dangerous. They’re more that type of person.”

Dobb said up to 100 officers from seven different agencies searched throughout Butler, New Madrid and Stoddard Counties, as well as parts of Arkansas.

He said the escapees traveled the railroad tracks out of town and took cover in the salvage yard because they were too vulnerable during daylight in their orange prison uniforms.

“I told one of the suspects, ‘You were lucky you didn’t get shot out here.’ And he said, ‘If I had been a citizen, I would have shot me, too.’ And so I think that weighed into their minds. They knew you’re down here in southeast Missouri in the gun belt and people will protect themselves,” Dobbs said.

"They knew you're down here in southeast Missouri in the gun belt and people will protect themselves." -- Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs.

Dobbs said he had information that the salvage yard would be a good place to look, and tracking dogs were taking police to the same place.

“It was kind of a two-fold thing that really sparks your interest when you have two things that cross paths like that, two pieces of information. You know you have a dog taking you right to it, and somebody else saying it was a good place to look,” Dobbs said.

The prisoners escaped by slipping through the jail’s ceiling tiles. The sheriff said the jail is sufficient, but it needs some upgrades.

“There’s no excuse for walls in a jail that don’t go to the ceiling. There’s no excuse for drywall for ceilings. There’s no excuse for glass windows on cells,” Dobbs said. “I’m not an architect. I’m not a jail designer. But I cannot for the life of me figure how any of that is a good idea.”

The three men were considered armed and dangerous. Matthew Cook was being held on murder charges for allegedly killing Sean Crow. Crow’s body was found in a McDonalds parking lot in Advance last month. KadeStringfellow allegedly murdered his infant son last summer in Portageville. Rodney Green was being held for assault on theft charges.

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The manhunt continues for three inmates who escaped from the Butler County jail Monday night. Two of the three were charged with murder, including KadeStringfellow, who is charged with killing his infant son last July through abuse and neglect. 

Matthew Cook is one of two men suspected of killing Sean Crow last month in Advance. According to the probable cause statement, Cook admitted to the murder under police questioning. Cook suspected Crow of having an affair with his girlfriend.

Rodney Green was being held under assault and theft charges. He shot two people in Butler County in February. He was apprehended after a short car chase which abruptly ended when Green crashed.

The Butler County Sheriff's Department is leading the manhunt. The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Clark Parrott says they are lending every available resource to the search.

“We have patrol canine on scene. Every available officer within the Poplar Bluff and Stoddard County area is actively involved in the search. We have had patrol aircraft, a helicopter, involved with the search at this point,” Parrott said.

These men are considered armed and dangerous.