A 39-year-old inmate escaped Wednesday morning from the county's John Latorraca Correctional Center near El Nido, the Merced County Sheriff's Department reported.
After a 6:30 a.m. head count at the 2584 W. Sandy Mush Road facility, correctional officers discovered blankets on the fence behind a dorm.
Another head count was conducted, and it became apparent that inmate Adrian Hicks had escaped through a hole in the bathroom ceiling sometime after the morning head count, according to deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.
A Merced resident, Hicks was arrested Dec. 13 on a warrant issued by Merced police on suspicion of possession of stolen property, grand theft, both with priors, and felony evading a peace officer. MacKenzie said a countywide alert has been sent to allied agencies, deputies and correctional officers, and that law enforcement is searching for the suspect.
Deputies are asking anyone with information to call the Sheriff's Department at (209) 385-7445. Tips are kept confidential and callers can remain anonymous.