By Glenn Collins
Friday, August 27, 2010 | 4:08 PM
DOUBLE SPRINGS -- Michael L. Sherer, an inmate at the Winston County Jail, walked away from the Work Release Building sometime on August 5 and then allegedly shot and killed his uncle, Thomas Lynn Smith, 57, Edgehill Road in Walker County, Tuesday afternoon.
Sherer is one of six inmates who have walked away since an April 5 court order mandated that Sheriff Ed Townsend house prisoners in the Work Release Building. All prisoners except Sherrer have since been recaptured.
Townsend said, “He has no violence in his past.” But, that would not have mattered. Sherrer was being held for burglary and forgery, and he met the criteria of the order handed down by Circuit Court (then-Presiding) Judge John H. Bentley. [Click Here to see a PDF of the Court Order]. The court ruling stems from a suit filed by the State Fire Marshall regarding overcrowding in the County Jail. The Court ordered the Sheriff to house all nonsupport inmates, and once the population exceeded 25, all city, misdemeanor and class “C” felons in the Work Release Building.
As for putting inmates in this building, Townsend said, “I had no choice, none whatsoever.“ He then stressed, “I've fought it, fought it, and fought it.” Townsend never wanted prisoners in the building. By housing prisoners there instead of another facility, the county saves $34.50 per inmate per day, according to Townsend. He asked the commission for guards and improvements to the building. The request was denied.
According to sources familiar with the investigation, Sherer's grandmother told investigators that she and Smith, Sherer's uncle, returned from shopping to find Sherer ransacking the home. Smith told him to leave. Sherer allegedly then picked up an assault rifle and shot his uncle. He then allegedly walked over to his fallen uncle and shot him again, this time at close range.
Authorities have reports as late as Thursday that Sherer is still in the area. He may be driving a 1989 Ford Van, Maroon in color, with Alabama Tag 67A86N0. Sherer is considered “Armed and Dangerous.” If spotted, dial 911.
Townsend sat down with HBTV Friday: [Click Here for Interview].