'How did this happen?' Man charged in Deputy Ned Byrd murder case escapes from jail in Virginia

ByJosh Chapin and Samantha Kummerer WTVD logo
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Man jailed in Wake County deputy's murder escapes
One of the men arrested in connection to the murder of Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd has escaped jail.

FARMVILLE, Va. (WTVD) -- One of the men arrested in connection to the murder of Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd has escaped jail.

Prince Edward County Sheriff's Office in Farmville, Virginia, announced Monday morning that two people had escaped from Piedmont Regional Jail, which is about three hours north of Raleigh. One of the escapees was identified as Alder Marin-Sotelo, 26.

Alder and his brother Arturo have been indicted on murder charges in the August 2022 killing of deputy Ned Byrd. Byrd was shot three times in the head and once in the chest while checking on suspicious activity on Battle Bridge Road near Auburn Knightdale Road.

Images of the vehicle that Alder Marin-Sotelo reportedly was driving after he escaped the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, Virginia.

On Monday night, the FBI released images of the vehicle Marin-Sotelo was believed to be driving after his escape. It was an early 2000s red or burgundy Ford Mustang with a 30-day temporary tag.

Alder and Arturo both pleaded not guilty to the charges. ABC11 has confirmed that Arturo, who is the alleged shooter in the case, remains housed in the Wake County Jail.

"My heart just sunk. This is so fresh. The loss of Ned Byrd is still so fresh, and it has been a complete gut punch to the family, the agency and all of the supporters of the police departments here in North Carolina who still mourn his loss," said Lindsay LiCausi, founder and CEO of Back the Blue, a law enforcement support organization.

Prince Edward County Sheriff's Office said Alder and 44-year-old Bruce Callahan of North Carolina were first noticed missing from the jail at 4 a.m. Monday.

Jail superintendent Jerry Townsend told local ABC affiliate WRIC that the two escapees slipped out by "manipulating a locking mechanism on the rear exit door." However, Townsend said the two inmates did not escape together; in fact, their jailbreaks happened nearly 22 hours apart -- with Sotelo escaping around 1:40 a.m. Sunday and Callahan escaping around 11:15 p.m.

"How did this happen? What measures could have been taken to make sure the situation doesn't happen or shouldn't have happened? You know, how are they going to take measures to make sure that this does not happen again? And in this case, the suspect that is on the loose is obviously a danger to the public and law enforcement," LiCausi said.

The sheriff's office launched a search of the area around the jail Monday morning when the escapes were uncovered. The search included K-9 officers and a Virginia State Police helicopter. The initial search found no signs of the escaped inmates.

The US Marshals are leading the investigation into the escaped inmates, according to an ABC News source familiar with the investigation.

"I encourage folks in the area to remain vigilant and to please call 911 if you see anyone matching the descriptions of these two men," Sheriff L.A. "Tony" Epps said. "We appreciate the support from our many law enforcement partners and the public, as we continue to search for these individuals."

One of the men arrested in connection to the murder of Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd has escaped jail.

Brooke Weaver, Byrd's second cousin, found out Monday morning that Alder Marin-Sotelo had escaped.

"It's basically like reliving the nightmare again," Weaver said. "All I want in the end is justice for what was done."

Weaver, who lives in Utah said she felt it was like a huge step back.

"I'm also nervous for our family in blue at this point because obviously he's a very dangerous person and I don't want to have to go through our funeral for another law enforcement officer," Weaver said. "I just want the justice for him that he deserves and the justice he was able to get for other people during his time with the department."

Brooke took pictures with Byrd when he went to Utah for Thanksgiving a few years ago.

"Ned was an amazing officer ... he also did work in the jail system," she said. "He wasn't only a deputy."

Marin-Sotelo is considered extremely dangerous, the FBI said. Anyone who sees him should call 911 immediately.

SEE ALSO | NC nonprofit, 'Back The Blue,' raises money for Wake County Sheriff's Office in honor of Ned Byrd

Byrd was shot and killed back in August while on duty. The money donated will go to the K-9 unit he was a part of.