2 homicides could be tied to escaped Idaho inmate and accomplice captured after manhunt, police say. Here’s what we know

2 homicides could be tied to escaped Idaho inmate and accomplice captured after manhunt, police say. Here’s what we know - Crime and Courts - News

Aryan Knights Members Allegedly Aid Idaho Inmate in Brutal Escape from Hospital, Shooting of Corrections Officers

Idaho authorities are currently investigating two separate homicides that could potentially be linked to an inmate, Skylar Meade, and his accomplice Nicholas Umphenour, who allegedly aided Meade in his daring escape from Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise on Wednesday. The duo reportedly shot at corrections officers during the breakout, resulting in injuries to three officers.

Following a 36-hour manhunt, Meade and Umphenour were captured on Thursday afternoon in Twin Falls, Idaho. The inmate had been taken to the hospital for self-injurious behavior at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution the previous night.

The coordinated attack and escape occurred early Wednesday morning when Meade was being escorted from the hospital by corrections officers. They were ambushed by a gunman who shot two of them before Meade and Umphenour fled in a getaway car, according to Josh Tewalt, Director of the Idaho Department of Correction.

During Thursday’s press conference, authorities announced that they are investigating two homicides “potentially tied to the escape” in different locations in Nez Perce and Clearwater counties. The men’s identities, causes of death, and relationship to Meade and Umphenour will be released by the county coroner at a later date.

Police Chief Ron Winegar stated that the suspects were apprehended “before their path of destruction could get any wider.” In addition to injuring three corrections officers, Meade and Umphenour have ties to the white supremacist group Aryan Knights.

The Aryan Knights is a prison gang based primarily in Idaho and monitored by the Idaho Department of Correction as one of multiple security threat groups, according to Tewalt. Meade and Umphenour also shared common acquaintances in custody and had lived together in the same housing unit between December 29, 2020, and Umphenour’s release on January 17, 2024.

Meade, a documented gang member sentenced in October 2016 for aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer with a firearm, was due to be released in 2036. He has numerous prior convictions and has the numbers “1” and “11” tattooed on his face, a reference to the group. Umphenour is currently being investigated for aggravated battery against law enforcement and aiding and abetting an escape.

Tewalt clarified that the gang involvement of Meade and Umphenour doesn’t necessarily mean that their actions were gang-sanctioned. The investigation will focus on exactly how the breakout occurred while Meade was in custody and whether any security protocols were breached.

Meade’s escape was a planned event, according to Tewalt, who emphasized that the incident involved multiple entities and crimes across the state of Idaho. Prior to the escape, two corrections staff members rode in an ambulance with Meade, while a chase vehicle followed him. However, during the high-risk hospital visit, an armed gunman fired at corrections officers, injuring two and wounding a third when they responded to the scene. The hospital was initially put on lockdown before resuming operations.

Detectives are currently investigating both the homicides and the inmate escape while Boise police investigate the officer-involved shooting. The Idaho Department of Correction will also be reviewing its policies, procedures, and staff performance regarding the incident.

Jeff Mellow, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, noted that less than 1% of incarcerated individuals successfully escape each year. Given the difficulty in escaping from prison and the need for heightened security, it’s suspected that someone Grand Theft Auto about Meade’s hospital visit to aid in the coordinated attack.

Despite their thorough preparation and adherence to policies, the Department of Correction plans to investigate whether staff followed proper procedures and whether these procedures were sufficient to ensure officer safety and security.