Addam Swapp apparently made detailed plans to escape from the Summit County Jail more than a week ago, prompting officials to isolate Swapp, his brother Jonathan and his brother-in-law John Timothy Singer from other prisoners.
The trio has subsequently been transferred to the Salt Lake County Jail for security reasons and lack of manpower in the Coalville jail."Somebody was supposed to get them in some tear gas, and they were going to catch a jailer off guard," said Summit County Sheriff Fred Eley. They then planned to handcuff the jailer, tape him up and escape in a vehicle that would be outside awaiting them.
Eley said he discovered the plans after reading a detailed list apparently written by Addam Swapp outlining their escape to an area near Kanab. The list contained 40 to 50 items that the three would need to survive. The list was given to officials by a prisoner who had gained Addam Swapp's confidence and was collaborating with him.
"They got to talking and I guess Addam kind of trusted this guy," he said. "We don't know how serious they were, but we took it seriously at the time."
Eley said officers put a microphone on the prisoner and recorded conversations between him and Addam Swapp discussing the escape. "We have him on tape, and he was planning something."
Plans involved the escape of the Swapp brothers, Singer and the prisoner, but the unidentified prisoner said Addam Swapp and the others did not want their families to know about the escape or become involved in it. The prisoner told them he had contacts and could obtain tear gas, an escape car, clothing and other items on the list they would need.
Eley said the information about the escape was discussed with 3rd District Judge Michael R. Murphy and attorneys for the three men found criminally liable by a four-man four-woman jury Thursday evening in the death of state Corrections Lt. Fred House.
"We thought the best thing to do was nip it in the bud," he said. "We isolated them and locked them down." Information about the incident was withheld from the media.
Despite the seemingly serious nature of the escape plot, the sheriff said no charges will be filed. Eley said the fact the trial was in progress influenced that decision.
The Swapp brothers and Singer were placed in the women's facility, where they remained for the last 10 days of the trial.
Defense attorneys could not be reached for comment Friday night, but Eley said the attorneys had downplayed the escape plans as simply "talk."
Eley said the escape plans made employees at the jail very uneasy. Because of the escape concerns and a shortage of officers, the three men were transferred to the Salt Lake County Jail Friday afternoon - despite Murphy's original request to keep them in Coalville for the holidays where they could be closer to their families.
"We've got limited manpower," Eley said. He met with Murphy and defense attorneys after the trial and persuaded them to transport the men to Salt Lake City, where they will stay until they are sentenced Jan. 20.
The sheriff said he also asked the judge to hold the sentencing in Salt Lake City instead of Coalville since the attorneys, prisoners and judge are already there.
In return for informing the sheriff of Addam Swapp's plan, Eley said the prisoner asked permission to leave the jail for two days for Christmas. A judge granted his request, partly because of his help, Eley said.