'Dangerous' inmate escapes from Hamilton County Justice Center by pretending to be fellow inmate

CINCINNATI -- An inmate walked away from the Hamilton County Justice Center Tuesday night by posing as another inmate.

Investigators told WCPO that Chris Bowden, 20, left the downtown Cincinnati facility at about 5:50 p.m. by pretending to be Darius Dabney.

"After an initial investigation it has been determined that inmate Chris Bowden conspired to falsify his identity and was subsequently released from the Justice Center," Sheriff Jim Neil wrote in a press release on Wednesday.

Neil didn't elaborate on the details surrounding the escape but said officials at the facility didn't realize what happened until about two hours after Bowden left the facility. Bowden was one of the approximately 100 prisoners that gets released from the Justice Center on a daily basis.

Robin, a woman claiming to be Bowden's mother, called local radio station 1230 The Buzz to find out "what is up with the Justice Center."

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"How does someone walk out of the Justice Center?” asked Robin, who claims she saw Bowden Tuesday. She said he had a cast on his arm at the time. “I have never heard of anything like this... How does this happen?

“I don’t justify any of it, I don’t. (But) whether it’s escape or whatever, there’s a mistake on the Justice Center… for not following protocol on releasing an inmate.”

Major Charmaine McGuffey, head of the Hamilton County Justice Department, said several law enforcement officials reviewed Bowden's paperwork before he was released.

"I will tell you that at least five individuals including supervisors touch that paperwork, scrutinize the documents, scrutinize the individuals that are being released,” McGuffey said. “We have procedures in place that help us to identify each and every inmate."

The sheriff's office has issued escape warrants for Bowden's arrest and are actively searching for the suspect. Deputies are asking for help from the public to find the 20-year-old but advised them to be cautious because he is considered dangerous.

While she said she doesn't support Bowden's actions, Robin thinks the Justice Center is painting her son to be someone he's not. And she fears a "good Samaritan" is going to take matters into their own hands, leading to her son getting seriously hurt.

Bowden was previously sentenced to 10 years in the Ohio Department of Corrections for aggravated robbery. He was at the Justice Center awaiting a court appearance.

But despite the sentence her son faces, Robin doesn't think her son would have come up with the decision to escape on his own.

“I’m not justifying this, (but) this isn’t something my son would do unless someone was helping him," she said.

Regardless of why or how, Bowden's brother, Jonathan Bowman, said he should do the right thing and turn himself in.

"Bro, we love you -- turn yourself in, do the right thing," he said. "We love you, bro. It's either life or death, bro. Make a good decision."

Dabney, who was at the jail for a misdemeanor charge of trafficking marijuana, appeared in court Wednesday morning on an additional charge of complicity to escape, a felony. He is being held on $500,000 bond.

An investigation will determine whether procedural changes are needed and if anyone involved in the mistaken release will be disciplined.

Anyone with information on Bowden's whereabouts is asked to contact authorities at (513) 825-1500 or Crime Stoppers at (513) 352-3040.

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