Ex-Army recruiter facing sex charges planned escape through roof, police say

By COLE WATERMAN | The Saginaw (Mich.) News | Published: May 22, 2019

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — A former U.S. Army recruiter is accused of planning an escape from the county jail where he was being held on sexual assault charges.

Corrections officers at the Isabella County Jail on April 29 discovered a plot involving 43-year-old Keith C. McKern Jr., who was being held on six counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Prosecutors allege the charges involve minors.

According to Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main, McKern’s cellmate was a jail trusty incarcerated on a probation violation. When the trusty was spotted passing contraband to a fellow inmate, officers searched him and found drawings and plans on how to escape the building, Main said.

“There were a couple of different options on how to get out of the building,” Main said. One involved faking a medical condition and another would have involved the trusty cutting a hole in the roof and lowering a rope ladder through it for McKern to climb up, the sheriff said.

“Once (staff) interrupted it, (the trusty) was up front and talked about it,” Main said. “He was definitely cooperative.”

When staff confronted McKern, he claimed he had merely been bored and was making up theoretical escape plans, Main said. According to The Morning Sun, McKern also told officers he was following his military training that if captured it is his duty to escape if possible.

On May 10, McKern was arraigned in Isabella County District Court on a charge of solicitation for escape while awaiting trial, punishable by up to two years’ incarceration.

McKern has served three tours in Iraq.

He is slated to appear for a preliminary examination on the attempted escape charge on May 30.

The trusty accused of assisting McKern in his scheme is not facing charges.

©2019 The Saginaw News, Mich.

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