Local News

June 11, 2014

Tough scrape: Prisoner charged with trying to tunnel through Whitfield jail wall

The movies always make it look so effortless to cut through the walls of a prison and escape, but one Dalton man found that concrete and steel don’t yield that easily.

Jeffrey Dewayne Land Jr., who was indicted last year on numerous charges including arson and kidnapping, has been charged with criminal attempt to commit escape and interference with government property for trying to bust out of the Whitfield County Jail. He used a piece of metal, possibly torn from a mop bucket, to cut through his cell wall, a jail official said.

Land is set to be arraigned in Whitfield County Superior Court on Aug. 7, according to District attorney Bert Poston.

According to Whitfield County Sheriff’s Capt. Rick Swiney, a jail guard received information in February that there was a metal rod in one of the cells that should not have been there. A search of the cell uncovered the rod. Swiney said a further investigation found that Land had been using the rod to try to scrape through the mortar of his cell wall.

“He was nowhere near digging through, and even if he’d gotten through the concrete he would have come up against some steel. If he’d somehow cut through the steel, there’s some more concrete on the other side,” said Swiney.

Land’s attorney, Samuel L. Sanders, declined to comment on the latest charges against his client Wednesday afternoon.

“There are charges pending, and he is going to be arraigned,” Sanders said. “Other than that, I don’t have any information I can share at this time.”

Land was arrested after a high-speed chase in January 2013 after setting fire to another man’s car and sending the man threatening text messages, officials said. He was then 35.

According to incident reports, Land led law officers on a chase through parts of Dalton, including the bypass, at speeds of up to 80 mph before he arrived in the Sane Road area where his parents live, took off on foot through a field, fled through the woods and waded into the Conasauga River in an attempt to avoid arrest.

Officers tracked him through the woods and to the river but were unable to tell exactly where he went. After dawn, they were tipped off to his location and he was found hiding under a bridge on Airport Road, soaked to the waist from having been in the river, according to one report.

At the time, there were already warrants for Land for aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon for an incident in which he hit a man on the head with a gun and threatened him with it in October 2012.

Land was on probation at the time is also scheduled to have a probation hearing along with his arraignment.

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