Manhunt for jail escapees continues

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2002

Fugitives Oscar Doster, 27, of Andalusia

and Bobby Phillips, 39, of Opp, who escaped from the Covington County Jail in the early hours of Nov. 4, are still at large, with Sheriff Anthony Clark continuing to stress that both escapees should be considered armed and dangerous.

Clark also stressed that his department, along with other agencies, continue to search night and day for Doster and Phillips, believed to be traveling in a 1984 maroon Ford F150 truck with a maroon camper shell.

"We just want to let people know that our department is continuing to get tips constantly and we are checking into all of those, and we are getting a lot more prowler calls over the last few days as well," said Clark. "We also have agencies such as the ABI (Alabama Bureau of Investigations) and the U.S. Marshalls working with us on this. We had planes in here searching the north and south part of the county yesterday, and there is also is a reward now for anyone with information about these two suspects."

He also noted that three people, Janie Meeks Fowler and Jerry Fowler and Sherry Lamb were arrested Wednesday night on misdemeanor charges for allegedly assisting the escapees while they have been on the run. Clark did not specify which escapees the three were supposed to have assisted.

Clark said he hopes that the department is close to "flushing out" the two fugitives, and said it would be best for all concerned if the two would simply end the search and turn themselves in.

"If (Doster and Phillips) had any concern about their family or their fellow man, or if they were man enough, they would just turn themselves in," said Clark. "This (continued search) is affecting their families and affecting others as well and it is not good for anybody. We are trying to uncover every lead, though, and I want people to know that I am out in the county all the time as well as my officers. I am not just sitting here at the office, but I'm out there (assisting in the search) and I won't rest until these two people are brought in."

He said there is no certain part of the county that is being concentrated on more than any other, although Clark acknowledged that his department has spent much time in communities such as Rose Hill.

"We are also investigating tips all over the county in places such as Opp, Wing and Andalusia," said Clark.

He said the department has also worked closely with officers in Crenshaw, Conecuh and

Butler as the search continues.

"There continues to be rumors going around that other people may have been shot by these two people and that maybe even a deputy has been shot, but those are just rumors," said Clark.

He said he would like to think the search is close to concluding.

"My personal feeling is that at any moment I am going to hear one of my officers say that we have (the two escapees back in custody)," said Clark. "That is just my general feeling."

Clark said until the two suspects are indeed back in custody, he stresses that residents in the county should continue to be cautious and to practice common-sense safety rules such as locking their doors and windows and making sure they know who is there before opening their doors.

Doster and Phillips are two of the four inmates who originally escaped the jail, apparently through the facility's ventilation system, along with Michael Barbaree and Charles Meeks.