A report released today by the warden of the Iowa State Penitentiary provides details of how an inmate escaped from the old Fort Madison prison this summer. Iowa State Pen spokesperson Rebecca Bowker says the inmate, Justin Kestner, timed his escape with the fireworks on the night of July 4th.
“Kestner, when speaking to investigators, indicated that he decided to use the July 4th holiday as cover due to the noise and the distraction that it would provide for (prison) staff,” Bowker said. Kestner wasn’t discovered missing until 4:45 a.m. on July 5. He was captured a few hours later, about 100 miles away in Illinois.
The report shows Kestner removed screws on his shower to access a pipe chase in the old Iowa State Pen. “He then made his way up to the ceiling and the roof and he came down (along) a downspout in order to get outside the secure perimeter,” Bowker said. Kestner got onto the roof from the prison’s attic through a vent. He’d planned to use a rope made from several bed sheets to climb down the 82-foot high prison wall, but used the downspout instead.
A review of the escape uncovered numerous “policy and procedural errors” by prison staff. Iowa State Penitentiary inmates have since been moved into a new prison in Fort Madison, but the escape spurred additional security measures to the new facility. “That includes concertina wire, as well as putting some cameras in other locations to make sure that we have absolute coverage in all areas around the institution,” Bowker said.
At the time of the escape, Kestner was serving a 10 year prison sentence stemming from a 2009 theft charge out of Woodbury County. He robbed a Sioux City convenience store.
See the full report here: Prison escape report 2015