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Suspect in infant’s slaying escapes from Pinellas jail, quickly caught

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri called the circumstances that led to the escape “the perfect storm.”
A map provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office shows the extend of a jail inmate's escape.
A map provided by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office shows the extend of a jail inmate's escape. [ Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Jun. 10
Updated Jun. 11

CLEARWATER — A man accused in the slaying of his infant son in Ohio escaped from the Pinellas County Jail on Wednesday morning and was free for about 10 minutes before he was recaptured, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

“It is absolutely concerning,” Gualtieri said during a news conference Thursday, calling the circumstances that led to the escape “the perfect storm.”

Still, deputies knew the whereabouts of the suspect, Cody Jondreau, 25, the entire time he was free and he didn’t pose a serious threat to public safety, Gualtieri said.

Jondreau was with other inmates in the recreation area of the jail, 14400 49th St. N in Clearwater, at the time he escaped. The deputy watching them walked into his guard tower to phone fellow guards, letting them know the inmates were ready to head back inside.

Cody Jondreau, 25, was with other inmates in the Pinellas jail’s recreation area at the time he escaped, the Sheriff's Office said.
Cody Jondreau, 25, was with other inmates in the Pinellas jail’s recreation area at the time he escaped, the Sheriff's Office said. [ Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]

In the guard’s brief absence, Jondreau managed to scale a fence, run across a roof and jump 11 feet to the ground. He landed in another fenced area and scaled a second fence, then jumped again, landed and ran.

Deputies chased Jondreau to a nearby business, Golf Cart Systems. There, they fired a Taser weapon at him, detained him and returned him to the jail.

The escape left Jondreau in need of medical attention. He suffered a broken heel bone from the fall and many cuts from razor wire. At the hospital, he received about 80 stitches, Gualtieri said.

Jondreau faces charges of murder, felonious assault and endangering children in the death of his 9-week-old son in Bryan, a city of 8,230 in far northwestern Ohio.

The Bryan Police Department didn’t have enough evidence to arrest Jondreau when he first was interviewed after the infant’s death, Chief Chris Chapa told the Times. Once investigators had enough to obtain a warrant, they discovered he had left the state, Chapa said. They learned he may have gone to Florida and the U.S. Marshals Service began a fugitive search.

Jondreau was arrested in Polk County on an out-of-state fugitive warrant May 11. On May 28, he was transferred to the Pinellas County Jail to await extradition.

After he is medically cleared, Jondreau will be transferred to Ohio. Sheriff’s officials will ask the Pinellas State Attorney’s Office to charge him with escape.

Gualtieri said the jail hasn’t seen anything like the escape in 25 years. In June 2006, a murder suspect escaped from a transport van and bolted from the jail, prompting a three-hour manhunt. But that was different, the Sheriff’s Office said.

“That is not considered an escape from jail, but an escape from custody — he had not been booked into the jail,” the Sheriff’s Office said in an email to the Times.

Jail officials will be reviewing their safety protocols in the wake of the escape, he said.

An inmate scaled a wall of the recreation yard to escape the Pinellas County Jail, the Sheriff's Office said.
An inmate scaled a wall of the recreation yard to escape the Pinellas County Jail, the Sheriff's Office said. [ Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]