Officials: Escaped inmate's wife hid handcuff keys in courtroom

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Darren Eugene Morrison By Jennifer Thomas Darren Eugene Morrison By Jennifer Thomas
Ashley Morrison By Jennifer Thomas Ashley Morrison By Jennifer Thomas

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Mohave County sheriff's detectives have determined that an inmate's wife hid handcuff keys in a courtroom, which allowed him to escape from custody on Jan. 18.

Darren Eugene Morrison, 26, escaped from a transport van outside a court building. He was captured five days later in a wash area south of Interstate 40 in Kingman.

Jail officials reviewed several hundred recorded phone calls and located a coded conversation of Morrison telling his wife, Ashley, to "put the gift on the right hand side of the seat," according to the sheriff's office.

Jail officials and court security officers searched the Mohave County Superior Court rooms Thursday and three handcuff keys were found between the cushion and armrest of multiple chairs in a jury box. The jury box area is often where the defendants sit for hearings when no jury is utilized.

When detectives executed a search warrant at Ashley Morrison's home last week, a receipt was located for an online purchase of four handcuff keys.

Investigators believe Ashley Morrison hid the handcuffs about a month prior to her husband's escape.

Officials said Ashley Morrison had also purchased food and survival equipment to help her husband facilitate his escape.