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INVESTIGATIVE UNIT: US Marshals searching for escaped WBR inmate

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WEST BATON ROUGE – The West Baton Rouge work release inmate that escaped last week has been captured. 

WBR inmate Mertis Wade was captured last night around 8 p.m. at the Krewe of Caesar Parade in Metairie. When authorities ask Mertis why he left, he stated he wanted to see his girlfriend.

The WBR Sheriff's Office worked in conjunction with U.S. Marshals in the capture.

Original Story:

A West Baton Rouge Parish Deputy is suspended without pay after a work release inmate escaped on Valentine's Day. U.S. Marshals are searching for Mertis Wade after he walked away from Bayou Bistro on Feb. 14.

The owner of the restaurant told WBRZ, Wade was last seen at the restaurant washing dishes around 8 p.m. on Valentine's night. When Wade didn't show up for work the next morning, that's when the owner called the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office.

Sources tell the Investigative Unit the escapee is 24-year-old Mertis Wade. Wade was in jail for a 2013 simple robbery out of Orleans Parish. Wade was placed in West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office custody in November 2015.

Wade is still missing as of Friday and there is an active search for him.

An internal investigation is underway.

Sources told the Investigative Unit at least two shift changes went through without Wade being detected as missing.

"Every two hours a head count is physically done, not a paper count," Col. Richie Johnson said in an interview back in 2015. "You have humans involved, and can have human error, you're supposed to go and physically touch each inmate."

If headcounts happened, that would mean at least six occurred with Wade going undetected.

The West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office tells Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto that they believe Wade is still in the area. This incident is just one of a number of escapes that have occurred recently from the West Baton Rouge Parish Work Release program. Last year, the State Legislative Auditor released a report indicating at least 22 inmates escaped over a two year period.

More details on this story will be on News 2 at 4, 5 and 6. 


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