Mistake was made, says GVRC Dir. on Mark Jones' escape - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Mistake was made, says GVRC Dir. on Mark Jones' escape

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(06/18/12) - The search continues for a homicide suspect, a Flint teenager, who escaped custody Friday afternoon.

Mark Jones, 16, had been housed at Genesee County's Genesee Valley Regional Center, or GVRC, awaiting trial for the November 2010 murder of Merlyne Wray in Flint.

Jones was at New Passages, on Corunna Rd. in Flint, for counseling Friday afternoon when he walked out the back door.

He had been given permission to use the bathroom.

GVRC Director Fred Woelmer say the guard watching Jones "lost sight" of him.

"He (the guard) should have went with him to the bathroom or at least kept him in the line of sight and he didn't do that," Woelmer says.

"The therapist actually came out and said, 'He's gone.'"

Woelmer says Jones was out of the guard's sight for a "few minutes."

Jones' mother, according to Woelmer, was at New Passages Friday when he was there for counseling.

Jones, according to Woelmer, was handcuffed and shackled at the feet when he walked away.

Woelmer says Jones has been to New Passages nearly 20 times, while in custody at GVRC, and has never tried to escape before.

Jones was reported missing around 4:30 p.m.

Someone called 911 and reported seeing Jones, shackled at the feet, in the area of Bradley and Gibson, right around that time.

Jones faces murder, armed robbery, home invasion, carjacking and weapons charges in the Wray case. 

Jones is the youngest person every to be charged with murder in Genesee County.

He was 14 when charged, as an adult, and has been held at GVRC since.

Jones has a long criminal history and had been housed at the detention center prior to being charged in Wray's murder.

The Genesee Valley Regional Center (GVRC) provides secure residential detention for male and female juveniles 10 through 17 years of age who have been court ordered into secure detention, according to a posting on the county's website.

The residential detention program is designed to hold juveniles pending court action or placement disposition in a secure environment, according to the website.

Wray's family is furious they had to learn about his escape on the news.

"Nearly 72 hours later and we still have not been notified," says Wray's daughter Stacey Wray.

"I'm incensed and frightened," she says.

"He preys on the elderly, the vulnerable.  If you're not expecting someone coming to your house, don't answer the door for them.  Keep your doors locked," says Wray's granddaughter Karen Klutts.

"We've been waiting for a year and a half now to get to trial. It's given him a year and a half to sit and think about what he was going to do," Klutts says.

"Do the right thing. Turn him in."

If you see Jones or know where he is, call 911.

It's not clear who is in charge of the search for Jones.

Woelmer says his center relies on the Sheriff's Department, whenever there is a problem, because it falls under the county umbrella. The county funds the facility.

The Sheriff says he's had staff working the case this past weekend with the FBI.

Flint Police say they've searched too.

State Police say they've offered help.

As for the GVRC guard who let Jones out of his sight?

"At this point we're investigating, discussing what needs to be done," Woelmer says.

State Police confirm they are working with Flint Police to find Jones.

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