By Bob Weaver

Four men escaped from the Wirt County jail Saturday and are on the loose. Wirt County Deputy Sgt. Lou Peck identified John Edward Griswold, 25, being held for probation violations and burglary; Nathaniel B. Wood, 21, held for malicious wounding; Eric R. Cottrell, 22, recently indicted for larceny for a breaking and entering and Charles C. Conley, 18, on the same charge. They are all residents of the Wirt-Wood area.

"We have an idea of the direction of escape," said Sgt. Peck. "We feel confident they will be caught." They have been reported to NCIC and police agencies are on the alert. Peck said he was unaware if any of the men are armed.

Peck said the men left the jail between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. on Saturday. "We are continuing with the investigation of the jail break and expect to have a full report," he said. The escapees went to J & S Auto in Elizabeth where they stole a 1992 four-door maroon Ford Explorer, West Virginia license 1 P - 4414.

Stories afloat regarding the early morning battery of Elizabeth resident Lloyd Mullinex was not associated with the escapees, said Peck. He said a man who was highly intoxicated apparently entered the Mullinex residence and beat on him about the time the jail break happened. A dog belonging to Mike Villers apparently bit the intruder.

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