March 26th, 2009
12:00 PM ET

Did guard free accused killer?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/26/art.crime.jeffrey.miles.jpg]

Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

Anita Kaye Vestal's job was to guard an accused killer. Instead, she allegedly drove him home in her minivan.

The Swain County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina calls it an act of betrayal. But the outrage doesn't begin to answer the questions surrounding this unbelievable story.

Jeffrey Czechonna Miles was being held at the Swain County Detention Center. And with good reason. Miles is suspected in connection with a triple shooting that left two people dead. Facing capital murder charges, he was confined to a cell until trial.

Keeping Miles and the other inmates behind bars was Vestal's responsibility. The 32-year-old married mother of four was hired as a detention officer just a few months ago. Last Saturday afternoon, authorities say Vestal released Miles from his cell, and with security cameras recording the event, she walked the accused killer out of the jail and into her minivan. It's believed they drove to her home where they got into her father's truck and left the area.

An employee at the Sheriff's Office offered more details on how Vestal allegedly aided the suspect, saying "she told other people she was working with that she was going to pick up some medication and she left. We didn't know he was in the back of the vehicle covered up."

But why would she do it?

The Sheriff thinks mind games played a part. In a statement released to the media, the Sheriff said "We believe that Jeffrey Miles used her to get out of the area by making her think he cared for her she was not held hostage, she went on her own accord."

Officials fear for Vestal's safety. They consider Miles armed and dangerous are concerned he may hurt the woman who allegedly freed him. The two could be in a 2000 red Ford Ranger truck with the North Carolina License Plate # TYL4404. The truck has a maroon camper top.

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. brigitte

    i cant believe...*let him stay free*....you wouldnt say that if someone you loved got murdered....its people like you that makes it hard to keep violence off the streets!...death penalty and life imprisonment?....you dont like that either...well God forbid...if anything happens to you or a loved one...i can see you in the court room facing the murderer of your loved one and you saying *oh please NOT the death penalty or life in prison*....YA RIGHT!...get a life..!

    March 27, 2009 at 8:58 am |
  2. Tayor

    You may think that way now, but if he was accused of killing someone in your family or a close friend you would think differently! But, how crazy can the woman be, what could someone possibly say to you that would make you want to go on the run with them? She has just thrown her whole life away, hope it was worth it.

    March 27, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  3. Jenny

    Great, another idiot making headlines and putting the public in danger. This creep is accused of murdering two people and what, she falls head over heels? Yeah, this guy definitely meets all my needs. I hope law enforcement catches both of them quickly and they are both behind bars where they will never see the light of day. Christine, how old are you? You'd rather see a murderer set free because you don't believe in the death penalty?? You're either very young or just plain ignorant. I wonder how'd you feel if this an animal like this murdered your loved ones.

    March 27, 2009 at 6:33 am |
  4. Zathina Mage

    It's a sad thing to see, but understandable with the proper grasp of human psycology. Brings me back to many storys from my youth about wemon doing absurd things for the 'bad boy'. I only hope that her children are well, and that this murderer is caught, and properlly punished. Well, if he is a murderer, likely he is for escaping.

    Perhaps he convinced her he was innocent? That happens in so many movies I can easily see how someone could pull it off. Perhaps, they need to have two guards at anytime instead of leaving one in charge of anything. To check and balance each other. Not to mention it'd create more jobs.

    March 27, 2009 at 5:56 am |
  5. Gino

    I wish we could see a picture of her – she must be rancid looking.

    March 27, 2009 at 5:04 am |
  6. Gino

    I just read a couple of comments and it does make sense that there must've been other's involved. And TIFFANY – I agree with you.

    March 27, 2009 at 5:02 am |
  7. Gino

    You got to be kidding me!!! How can a mother of 4 be convinced in such a short time to basically flush her life down the toilet? The woman must have some deep seeded issues that the prisoner played with to his advantage. She doesn't recognize the fact that she is not only freeing someone for her own personal need, but in the same breath exposing society to an alleged very violent person. He, not only got her romantically attached, must've convinced her of his innocence – that he is some sort of victim. I pray to God no one gets hurt because of this woman's actions. How can anyone throw away their career for someone? Regardless if he's/she's an accused killer or not!!! The fact that this guy is blamed for multiple murders makes the woman's actions that much more bizarre. If anyone get's hurt, they must come down very hard on this lady.

    March 27, 2009 at 4:58 am |
  8. mike

    theories abound,
    THEORY I: maybe this lady joined the police for the sole purpose of getting the opportunity to guard him and thus help him escape. think about it, your lover gets arrested, what do you do? you join the prosecuting agency and vie for a position that will allow you to help your lover escape.
    THEORY II: the accused killer threatened the guard or/and her family with death or serious bodily harm if she did not help him escape.
    THEORY III: Probably the most probable theory. Lets face it, jail guards are not the smartest people in law enforcement, they're not the smart in relation to the average person, so most likely this jail guard was somehow duped into helping this accused killer escape.

    If I had to bet, i'd put my money on THEORY III. "the stupid guard theory".

    By Michael Beltran
    Anti-Social Social Commentator

    March 27, 2009 at 3:25 am |
  9. joe

    "he cared for her" lol thats so funny... an accused killer cares for a married wife with 4 childern... what is her husband thinking

    March 27, 2009 at 3:21 am |
  10. Flutie

    Perhaps the justice system needs some fine tuning in some areas, but, do you really think that it sucks ? If you truly believe that, then you might be on the look out for that Red Ranger, you know it does have a camper shell and maybe the 3 of you can journey to NY and ask Mr Madoff if he believes in the death penalty or life in prison. Should he serve out his full term, he would be approx. a mear 220 yrs. old........

    Don't forget to update your passport by June 1st and move out of the country.

    As Geraldo says " GIMME A BREAK "

    March 27, 2009 at 12:33 am |
  11. nowwhat

    doesn't matter whether your female or male. everybody is susectable. read the book tilted Anatomy of a set-up)

    March 26, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  12. nowwhat

    ell, usually a prison tour is set up with the public informaiton officer who usually provides the tour with the escort of at least three corrections officers assigned to the investigative services unit (ISU). Obviously, the prison who gave you the tour should revise thier operational procedures so this does not occur again.

    March 26, 2009 at 11:31 pm |
  13. coolio

    you that dude is madd G homie!! straight outta the hood!!!

    March 26, 2009 at 8:09 pm |
  14. Ell

    I applied to be a corrections officer and during the hiring process there was a tour of the prison. Prior to entering we recieved a special stamp on our hand. Lucky me... in the hour I was in there it rubbed off on my clothes from the way I was holding my hand. When it came time to exit it was a nightmare for me to leave because I did not have the ink stamp anymore the word of the correctional "guide" we had was not enough.... Aside from the responsibility this woman took, I find it hard to believe she was able to leave without someone noticing. There is a system of checks and balances in place. She can't be the only one at fault. How could noone have noticed a man in a jumpsuit trapezing around? I imagine there will be an investigation and she will not be the only one getting in trouble.

    March 26, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  15. chris

    serves em right

    March 26, 2009 at 6:43 pm |
  16. Deb

    I'm a female and used to be a correctional officer in a mens proson. I couldn't agree more. Women need to guard women and men guard men

    March 26, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  17. Eboney

    Despite the shock and aww of some of the comments I've read, what happened is not all that uncommon. I've worked in corrections and the first thing they teach us is about inmate con games and how they manipulate staff. It's not to even say that she was stupid. Unless they have something else to occupy their time (which usually they don't) they spend ALL of their time studying us officers. They watch us constantly and spend all their time trying to get over on us as officers. It is their job to outsmart us and it is our job to stop them. I guess she was not on her job.

    March 26, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  18. donna

    Men should guard men and women should guard woman. There is always a problem when men/women guard the opposite sex. The possibility of emotional and/or sexual feelings are not worth the risks. There's nothing wrong with "seperate" but equal in the work place and certainly not in a lock up.

    March 26, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  19. David

    I feel by me being an ex-felon the system has always been in Florida. Men would come and release any inmates out of their cell in the mens prison. Why wasn't she escorted with a male officer in a maximum security prison by herself? Apparently they must have something in common before she ever got the job! For her to just come right in and be able to just have access to the keys to let a inmate out at her on will? Something more to it besides that, someone in the staff has knowledge as well. It is more to what is being said. All close eyes ain't sleep is my!!!!!!!

    March 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  20. James

    Who checked her out before they hired her? Obviously an idiot

    March 26, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  21. Erinn

    Seriously? I know he is just an "accused killer" and in our country that makes him innocent until proven guilty – but come on! What did he say or promise her to make her throw everything she had away? People only commit crimes because they think they are so special they won't get caught – most are wrong, a few are right. Our system isn't perfect but it sure as hell a lot better than some of the other systems out there. I think more than likely she will be killed and her body dumped some where to be found days or months afterward. The guy will eventually get caught and add that to his list of charges. Maybe they should do a better check on the type of people they hire for these jobs – someone missed something on this lady's mental evaluation and they need to find out how they missed it.

    March 26, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  22. Tiffany

    I can not believe the stupid things I have read. "I hope he stays free?"
    Did you not read the article. This man is a killer. I guess since his victims were not related to you, you can feel that way. Bleeding hearts like you are the reason people like him exist and continue to thrive. I hope you believe in karma. What goes around comes around. I just hope you do not learn this lesson by losing your life or someone you love because some killer got to stay free. My god grow up.

    March 26, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  23. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Starr Belger--We [all] have our weakness--don't we?

    March 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  24. Amy

    Wow, how stupid!! Hope he was worth the 15 minutes you go to spend with him, now you'll be locked up right along side of him when your both found. Way to go IDIOT!!! She must enjoy the look of prison walls, why would you want to stare at them all day when you could enjoy your freedom, I will never understand why people commit crimes.

    March 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  25. heather

    you should've let him outtaaa jailll before he escaped! DUH

    March 26, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  26. Christine

    I hope he stays free. I don't believe in the death penalty or even life in prison. The justice system sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 26, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  27. starr belger

    its women like this that make it look bad for us all. How the heck could she leave her family and everything for an accused murderer?
    How old is this woman? Makes a good argument for requiring male prisoners be guarded by male correction officers.

    March 26, 2009 at 3:12 pm |