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FBI, local law enforcement searching for escaped Phelps County inmate


Federal and local law enforcement are searching for an inmate who escaped the Phelps County Jail Friday night.

Just after 11 p.m. Friday, two inmates escaped the Phelps County Jail by "comprising the structural integrity of the cell and exiting the building," according to a news release from the Phelps County Sheriff. The inmates are Steven Timothy Scott, who turned himself in, and Jonathan Eugene Schmidt O'Dell, who is still missing. The FBI and the Phelps County Sheriff are searching for O'Dell.

Courtesy: Phelps County Sheriff

O'Dell is 33 years old, 6'1, about 200 pounds with brown hair, blue eyes, and a full beard at the time of his booking. Law enforcement suspects he may shave his beard to disguise himself. O'Dell was last seen wearing a maroon-colored shirt with a Phelps County logo and brown slacks with a tan stripe.

O'Dell is known to associate with people in several central Missouri locations, according to the FBI, especially in Warsaw, Columbia and Springfield.

Courtesy: Phelps County Sheriff

O'Dell was being held for weapons charges. A federal indictment said O'Dell allegedly planned to go to Texas and shoot migrants crossing the United State's southern border. O'Dell allegedly planned to murder any officers or Border Patrol agents who tried to stop him.

On Oct. 7 of last year, federal agents executed a search warrant at O'Dell's house, according to the FBI. Special agents were fired at multiple times while serving the warrant. In a news release, the FBI said agents did not return fire.

"After the gunshots ceased, the FBI established a perimeter and began communicating with the persons inside the residence to come out," the news release reads.

The Phelps County Sheriff and FBI remind the public O'Dell is considered extremely dangerous and anyone who aids a wanted fugitive could face serious charges.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of O’Dell is asked to call 9-1-1 or the FBI immediately. FBI St. Louis can be contacted at 314-589-2500 or FBI Kansas City at 816-512-8200. Tips may also be submitted at

For non-emergency tips, please call the Phelps County command post at (573) 426-3886.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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