Last Modified: Saturday, December 29, 2012 6:48 PM
ST. GABRIEL (AP) — Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain says he'd never heard of an inmate breaking out of jail just to seek a transfer to another prison, but that's what a New Orleans offender serving time for armed robbery attempted early Friday.
Cain told The Advocate he received a call around 12:40 a.m. at his residence about a prison break at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel.
"I was thinking I'm about to talk to the warden about the escape," Cain said, "and it's the inmate that was calling me."
On the line? Joshua Kelly, the 38-year-old inmate who prison officials say overpowered a guard and stole an ambulance to escape from the Ascension Parish prison. Disguised in the officer's jacket, Kelly escaped from Hunt around midnight while he was working with a group of other inmates on a night cleaning crew, prison officials said.
Cain was able to speak directly with the fugitive after control center personnel electronically linked the phones the inmate and warden were using.
"He called me and said he wanted to give himself up to me," Cain said Friday afternoon. "He said he wanted to come back to Angola because he feared for his life at Hunt."
Cain says he and Public Safety and Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc persuaded Kelly by phone to pull over and surrender to officers.
"I guess he was just trying to cut his losses and give up," Cain said.
Authorities arrested Kelly without incident about 2:30 a.m. Friday at the intersection La. 73 and La. 75 in Ascension Parish, according to the news release.
Authorities booked Kelly as a fugitive and returned him to Hunt Correctional Center, Corrections Department spokeswoman Pam Laborde said in an email Friday.
Cain said that Kelly, after spending six years at Angola, had been transferred to Hunt Correctional Center about six months ago to serve out the remainder of his term.
"He was a good inmate; very calm and soft-spoken," Cain said.
Officials say they're investigating Kelly's escape, the first from Hunt since 2005.