Two state prisoners who escaped from Uintah County Jail and allegedly went on a four-day car-theft spree that ended in Nebraska will be doing decidedly harder time when they return to Utah.
Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke said Thursday that Dallas Derrick and Jason Braham remained in Nebraska’s Lancaster County Jail for now, and it was uncertain when — but not if — they will return to Utah.
“Braham and Derrick are being held in Nebraska pending new criminal charges there. A detainer has been placed on them, meaning they will be sent back to Utah after that process is complete,” Gehrke said. “The plan is to return them to the Utah State Prison at that point.”
The two also are likely to face additional years behind bars when escape charges are added, along with charges related to five vehicle thefts — beginning with the theft of Chevrolet Tahoe in Vernal shortly after they had escaped through a laundry vent at the jail the night of Sept. 19.
Derrick, 31, and Braham, 21, allegedly drove the Tahoe until it ran out of gas in Wyoming, where they stole another, ran it out of gas, and then moved on to a third, fourth and finally a fifth vehicle, a pickup truck, that broke down outside of Lincoln, Neb.
That’s where a Lancaster County sheriff’s deputy spotted them and finally ended their bid for freedom — 800 miles east of where it had started.
The two purportedly told Nebraska law officers that all five of the vehicles stolen had the keys left in their ignitions.
When arrested, the two men were found with a wallet full of assorted identities, an MP3 player and a backpack stolen out of the bed of another pickup in Lincoln while the owner was inside eating at a restaurant last Saturday.
Derrick and Braham had been in the Vernal jail under a contract with the Utah Department of Corrections; Uintah County Jail houses 27 other state inmates under similar arrangements.
Uintah County Undersheriff John Laursen said the jail has made quick upgrades to the laundry area and venting screens and barriers through which the duo escaped. It also has instituted hourly physical head counts, with officers going into cells to confirm inmate presence.