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Search Continues for Missing Killers in Jefferson City

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B and C Hall at the Mo. State Penitentiary (State of Missouri photo)

By AP/KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – There's still no sign of two convicted murderers who went missing at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.

They were working in the prison's ice plant with another convicted murderer who was found dead this week. Cole County Sheriff John Hemeyers says a note left near the body threatened to kill anyone who gets in the way of the two missing inmates.

The men being sought are Christopher Sims, 27, and Shannon Phillips, 35. Sims went to prison for a 1997 killing in St. Louis, Phillips for a 1995 murder in Kansas City.

They were assigned to work at the ice plant with Toby Viles, 28, who was convicted of killing his sister and two brothers at their home near Lebanon in 1992. Viles was found dead of blunt trauma wounds to his head and neck.

Prison officials say they have no hard evidence that the two prisoners escaped from the 47-acre penitentiary complex. So they're concentrating their search inside the walls, although areas outside are also being checked.

Inmates have hid inside the prison in the
past; several years ago it took officials a day and a half to find a missing prisoner.

The Missouri State Penitentiary is the oldest continually operated prison west of the Mississippi River. Some of its crumbling outer walls date to 1836, one of the housing units to 1868.

There are about 25 buildings and many tunnels on the 47-acre complex, meaning officials have many areas to search as they try to find the two prisoners.

The prison houses about 2,000 inmates who are in lockdown while the search continues.

The prison, only about half a mile east of the state Capitol, is due to be closed down after a replacement prison now under consturction is ready for occupancy.

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