Prisoners found dead in landfill
2 MIGHT HAVE BEEN KILLED IN GARBAGE TRUCK
By Sam Baker And Peter Mathews
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITERS
Two prisoners who disappeared Wednesday from the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange might have been dead before they got through the prison gates.
Once Avery Roland and Michael Talbot were discovered missing on Wednesday, police asked employees at the Valley View landfill to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Yesterday morning, they found Roland's body. Talbot was found shortly before 6 p.m.
A garbage truck traveled from the prison to the landfill at 8 a.m. Wednesday after collecting the jail's trash, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said.
Roland and Talbot went missing sometime between 5:30 a.m. and noon.
Still, Lamb said it's not clear whether the inmates tried to hitch a ride in the garbage truck or made it to the landfill by other means.
Lamb didn't know whether the prison's trash bins receive specific attention, but said those receptacles are in a heavily monitored yard.
If Roland and Talbot managed to hide there and planned to ride a garbage truck to the outside, they probably didn't make it very far.
Once the trash bins are emptied into a garbage truck, the refuse is compacted using what Lamb called a "hydraulic crushing device."
It is compacted several times, and a prison officer observes the process.
The driver must compact his or her load again before leaving prison grounds, Lamb said, and then a third time after passing through the gates.
Prison officers also inspect garbage trucks' undercarriages, Lamb said.
Police have been interviewing other inmates, and will know more once causes of death are established.
Autopsies are scheduled to take place this morning in Louisville.
Police and prison officials didn't know how the men circumvented the video cameras, armed guards and two-car patrol unit that monitor the medium-security facility, or how they traveled from the jail to the landfill -- about 10 miles away, along a road Kentucky State Police trooper Greg Larimore said police were probably patrolling.
Roland, 26, of Stanton was waiting to stand trial on charges he raped and sodomized a Madison County girl in her home in 2003.
He was serving a four-year sentence after pleading guilty in Fayette County to charges of unlawful imprisonment, sexual misconduct and assault. In that case, Roland pulled a University of Kentucky student into a dark area and fondled her. Four men heard the woman screaming and restrained Roland until police arrived.
Talbot, 24, of Louisville was serving a 10-year sentence on charges of wanton endangerment, theft by unlawful taking, and fleeing and evading police.
The parents of the victim in the Madison County rape said their daughter had been on edge since she heard about Roland's apparent escape.
"I ain't gonna lie. I wanted him dead," the victim's stepfather said after hearing of Roland's death.
The rapist entered the family's home, in a subdivision west of Richmond, through an unlocked door about 5 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2003, and attacked the girl, then 17, in her bedroom, according to court documents.
"For two years she's been traumatized," the stepfather said. For a long time, the victim was reluctant to leave the subdivision or trust people. Her family installed a security system.
Her life was beginning to return to normal, but she came home terrified after hearing Roland escaped.
"She was scared to death," her mother said. The Herald-Leader is not naming the woman's parents because it normally does not identify rape victims or their families.
Thomas Smith, who recently retired as Madison commonwealth's attorney but was going to prosecute the rape charge, said, "I was hoping that we could bring this man to justice in the appropriate way. It's one of those events where we feel maybe justice got cheated a little bit."
But after thinking about it some more, he said, "Maybe justice was actually served in this case."