SWAT captures escaped inmate

Joseph Anthony Graham, Booking Photo, Purgatory Correctional Facility, Aug. 13, 2013 | Photos courtesy of Washington County Sheriff's Office, St. George News Image

ST. GEORGE – An inmate who escaped Washington County’s Purgatory Correctional Facility this afternoon is back in custody of law enforcement authorities.

“We have him in custody,” Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Jake Shultz said, “we got him at about 9:40 p.m.”

Joseph Anthony Graham, 21, of St. George, escaped the jail around 3:30 p.m. today. His escape was initially detected by Sheriff’s Office personnel at approximately 3:55 p.m.

Multiple law enforcement agencies joined in the search for Graham. The house that he was found in was on the west side of St. George, Shultz said, and he was taken into custody without incident.

“We followed several leads on that side of town,” Shultz said.

“They’re looking into the residence he was at,” Shultz said. “Members of our SWAT  – metro SWAT team  – hit the house in question and he was there.”

Graham will be booked back into the Washington County Jail on new charges, one of which will be second-degree felony escape.

Before his escape earlier today, Graham had been taken into custody yesterday at 10:30 p.m. and booked into the county jail on a class-B misdemeanor warrant issued by Washington County Justice Court Judge Douglas Whitlock. The warrant stemmed from charges of domestic violence in the presence of a child.

Details on the escape are being withheld in the interest of ongoing jail security, and the location Graham was found at is being withheld in light of the ongoing investigation.

According to a statement released at 10:55 p.m., the Washington County Sheriff’s Office has initiated an internal investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the escape.

The Sheriff’s Office extended thanks to its many partners who assisted in this operation, including the Hurricane City Police Department, Ivins/Santa Clara Public Safety, the St. George City Police Department and their dispatch center, the U.S. Marshal’s Office and their JCAT team, Utah Adult Probation and Parole, the Utah Highway Patrol’s Aero-wing helicopter, the Washington City Police Department and Washington County Search Rescue Team with their search dog.

Persons arrested are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

UPDATED 10:55 p.m. with additional information per written statement released by Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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  • JOSH DALTON August 15, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Yup Joyce…I thought about calling you last night when they raided the apartment two doors down from mine. The wife said I did not need to. She also told me to keep my video camera off. The cops sat in there UC vehicle right out in front of my door. I noticed to suspicious males next to my new car. I thought they were selling drugs…turns out they were Washington County Sheriffs. Well then it got exciting about 10min after that. A whole grip of undercover vehicles showed up and entered the dwelling. I LOVE MY HOOD! All of the action happens in my complex. Keeps my wife and I in touch with reality! See I had said earlier that I just happen to be in the right place at the right time!

  • DoubleTap August 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

    From a “class B misdemeanor” to “2nd. degree felony escape” all in the span of about 24 hours (actually less). So someone tell me….how bright is this individual? Is he a product of the local educational system?

  • Anon August 15, 2013 at 10:17 am


    I actually went to school with him. He’s pretty smart from what I knew about him. He played on the basketball team and was a very good athlete. Obviously he has ran into some really tough situations and he needs to deal with them a whole lot better than he is.

    • My Evil Twin August 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Oh yeah, he is bright all right. . . Bright enough to not show up when he is supposed to, so a warrant is issued but it is only for a grand. So he’s busted on that, and escapes, gets busted again, and now he’s held on fifty grand. But because of his extreme intelligence, he tries to smuggle dope into the jail and gets busted for that, to the tune of ten grand.
      So which do you prefer, bail of one grand, or combined bail of 60 grand? I’m sure the bail bonds people will be lining up, offering to post his bail. . .
      Yep, real intelligent.

      Speaking of intelligent, how about whoever created the conditions that allowed him to escape in the first place? I see there is an internal investigation into that. Hope somebody gets either a lengthy stretch of “beach time,” or flat out fired for that one.

      • DoubleTap August 16, 2013 at 9:17 am

        EvilTwin….my sentiments exactly.

  • mary August 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Well…..It looks like he is brighter than a few of the guards that work there. Most of them are products of the local education system.

    • DoubleTap August 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      I concede the fact that both guards and inmates (at least most of them) are products of the local educational system then. That really says a lot….just saying.

  • William August 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    “We do not consider him armed or dangerous,” Shultz said.
    Shultz said. “Members of our SWAT – metro SWAT team – hit the house in question and he was there.”

    • JOSH DALTON August 16, 2013 at 10:02 am

      Shot him right in front of my wife and I…

  • philiplo August 15, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Where’s that naked guy with a gun when you need him? He could have taken care of the situation without any need for SWAT to suit up.

  • South West August 16, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    A coworker who lives in Apple Valley was telling a group of us that the Sherriff next door to him said the guy was in a detox room where officers radio in through an intercom by saying their name & the door opens soo to make a long story short the inmate walked up to the intercom said he was so & so & door opened to freedom.

  • annnnna August 20, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Haha now is in protective custody cause people found out he is a child molestor…lmao

  • Joe November 19, 2015 at 2:10 am

    Child molester? Protective custody?? Ha ha whoever said that is way out in left field, check my rap sheet punk you won’t find nothing like that on there!! And I dam sure was no PC case, you got me twisted!

    • LDM December 26, 2015 at 10:13 am

      Looks like the law has caught up with you again looks like you’re the punk lol I’m the father of the girl you tried to molest when you were a minor which you were tried and convicted that’s why it’s not on your rap sheet you did the time when you were 18 years old and never had to register as a sex offender but that’s okay we got you ourselves and I caught you myself remember Joey now looks like you’re going to be somebody’s girlfriend for a long time I still remember in court that day me telling you I’m going to ruin the rest of your life looks like I didn’t have to do anything you did it yourself we still have eyes on you good luck punk

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