After the unusual rotary jail was modified during the facility’s final years of use, the incidence of prisoner escapes were infrequent but more likely. One escape, which occurred Sept. 9, 1970, even bordered on the humorous.
Wilburn Earl McAfee, 22, managed to pry his way through the roof of the jail about the time the beauty contest crowd came out of the Gallatin school auditorium, located across the street. He was seen briefly while he was on the roof. But those who noticed simply thought he was a prankster rather than an escaping prisoner, so McAfee successfully made his escape out of town.
Officers searched for him all during that night. About 5 a.m. he was apprehended while hitchhiking north on Highway 13 near Jameson. Gallatin’s night marshall, Doug Roberts, recognized the fugitive while driving home. McAfee didn’t recognize Roberts since the city officer was in plain clothes and driving a pickup truck.
McAfee was in jail on a disturbing the peace warrant issued in Daviess County, as well as for a count of forgery from Caldwell County after he was jailed.
There is irony in the capture of McAfee by Roberts. Wilburn Roberts’ brother, Danny, was the driver of the car that smashed into the Roberts car east of Coffey, MO, the previous June. This resulted in the death of Mr. Robert’s wife and two of their children. Danny’s brother, Delbert, also died in the crash; Mr. Roberts and eight others were injured.
Summarized by Darryl Wilkinson from a news article published in the Sept. 10, 1970, Gallatin North Missourian