Inmate injured in Ky. factory collapse walked away from hospital, police say

Francisco Starks was still at large as of Monday morning


Update: December 13, 2021. Francisco Sparks is back in custody after turning himself in. Read more.

By Jeremy Chisenhall
Lexington Herald-Leader
        
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Police are searching for a Graves County Jail inmate who was on work release at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory when it was flattened by a tornado this weekend, according to Kentucky State Police.

The inmate, 44-year-old Francisco Starks, was recovered from the wreckage and sent to Jackson Purchase Medical Center to be treated for injuries, state police said.

“Upon his release, he walked away from the hospital,” state police said in a statement Saturday night.

Francisco Sparks
Francisco Sparks (Kentucky Department of Corrections)

State police were notified just before 5 p.m. that Starks was missing. A trooper was investigating Saturday night. 

Graves County Jailer George Workman previously told the Lexington Herald-Leader that there were seven inmates working at the factory. It was part of an agreement between the jail and factory that was meant to help them develop “a work ethic and hopefully have some funding when they get out,” he said.

Some of the inmates suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the collapse and a deputy jailer was killed, according to Workman.

“It’s something that you never expect to see, and you never want to live through it,” Workman said. “It’s a very unfortunate set of events.”

All the inmates at the main jail in Graves County were evacuated and taken to other detention centers, according to a Facebook post from the Graves County Jail and Restricted Custody Center.

Kyanna Parsons-Perez, a worker at the factory who streamed video from the scene on Facebook Live, told the "Today" show that inmates from the jail worked to get people out of the wreckage.

“Some of those prisoners were working their tails off to get us out,” she said. “They were helping.”

©2021 Lexington Herald-Leader.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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