MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The search is on for three teenage boys on the run in West Tennessee after escaping the Wilder Youth Development Center late Saturday night.
Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services provided the following: “Three youth escaped from The Wilder Youth Development Center Saturday evening. DCS immediately notified law enforcement of the identities of the missing teens when the discovery was made that the youth were no longer on property. We will continue to work closely with law enforcement officials until they are apprehended.”
The U.S. Marshals Task Force is also in on the search for the missing teens and tracking their families and friends since the teens are from Middle and East Tennessee.
The sheriff’s department said the teens are in Wilder because of aggravated assaults and robberies and they have violent and aggressive tendencies. They are telling neighbors to be aware of their surroundings and keep their doors locked.
WREG traveled to Fayette County and spoke with concerned community members. The news of another escape from the Wilder Youth Development center in Fayette County has members of the community concerned.
“It’s dangerous towards the neighborhood you don’t know what they might do. They can break in somebody’s car, try to rob somebody to get away from here,” a concerned resident said.
Just over a year ago, the facility received failing grades in a scathing report on conditions at the center.
Disability rights Tennessee and Youth Law Center say an investigation, which included interviews with teens and staff, along with public data, found beatings and abuse at the state-run Wilder Youth Development Center.
Both men we talked to, who did not want appear on camera, say they were not surprised to hear of the escape.
“They probably were depressed or something like that. It probably was a bigger issue like food, or not enough activities or something,” one man said.
“It happens sometimes every year or so. Most of the time they catch them, they normally go to a friend’s house or something like that,” another man said.
WREG has reached out to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office for an update on the whereabouts of the three teens. They provided the following information:
“On Saturday, March 11th, 2023 at 9:35pm, The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a resident on Jefferson Drive that 3 males had just ran through his backyard. Our office called Wilder Juvenile Detention Center and asked if they were missing anyone. Our office was told they weren’t aware of any missing and would do a headcount.
At 10:10pm Wilder staff called our office back and confirmed they were missing three males. While searching the area, deputies were flagged down at 12:17am in the 500 block of Old Jackson Rd by resident stating his Silver 2020 jeep grand Cherokee had been stolen.
At 11:03pm an LPR camera showed the stolen vehicle westbound on Highway 64 in Shelby County. It is not yet confirmed but believed that the juveniles are no longer in the Fayette County area.“
The resident shared a video with WREG showing what she believes are three teens near the cars outside her home, which is right down the street from Wilder.
Along with the three teenage suspects that escaped over the weekend, a teenage murder suspect escaped this same facility. However, he was captured a few days later.
The man we spoke to says the detention center needs to do a better job of securing its detainees.
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“I had family members work up there, I have had friends work up there and they all say the same. It’s easy for them inmates to get away,” the man said.
Authorities said the boys were last seen wearing the same gray jogging pants and gray shirts in the area of Jefferson Drive and Armory Road.
If you see the teens, you are urged to call 911 or the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department at 901-465-3456.