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May 11, 2023

Woman charged with helping the two escaped inmates from Philly prison

Xianni Stalling, 21, had a phone conversation with one prisoner before Sunday's jailbreak, police say. Ameen Hurst and Nasir Grant remain at large

Investigations Prisons
Inmates Escape Philly Woman Charged StreetView/Google Maps

Xianni Stalling, 21, allegedly helped prison inmates Ameen Hurst and Nasir Grant escape from a jail in Northeast Philadlephia on Sunday, May 7. A manhunt for the two men is ongoing.

A 21-year-old woman, who allegedly aided two prisoners who escaped from the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center in Holmesburg on Sunday night, has been arrested, authorities said.

As the manhunt continues for Ameen Hurst and Nasir Grant, who disappeared from the prison on Sunday, Xianni Stalling was arraigned Thursday on charges of conspiracy and hindering apprehension, court records show.

Philadelphia Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Vanore told the Inquirer that Stalling received a call from one of the two men before both broke free from the complex through a hole cut into a fence.

Vanore did not share details about Stalling's alleged role in the escape, but described the recorded phone call at the jail as "obvious" evidence she was helping them from the outside.

Hurst, 18, and Grant, 24, went undetected for nearly 19 hours after escaping from their prison unit around 8:30 p.m. Sunday. Hurst is charged with four homicides and Grant was in jail awaiting  gun and drug charges, police said. The two men were not cellmates.

Prison staff failed to notice the two men were missing despite conducting three head counts at 11 p.m. Sunday and then 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Monday. Their absence was discovered during a 3 p.m. head count on Monday.

The police department's public affairs office declined to provide additional information about Stalling when contacted Thursday. The U.S. Marshals Service, which is assisting in the investigation, could not immediately be reached for comment.  

The prison break has intensified the conflict between the leadership of the prisons department and members of AFSCME Local 159, the union representing Philadelphia correctional officers. 

Last week, the union unanimously voted "no confidence" in Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney, citing a staffing crisis along with health and safety conditions at city prisons, which hold about 4,400 inmates. The union has remained critical of Carney in the days since the escape.

Carney said on Wednesday the department is investigating any procedural failures that may have enabled Hurst and Grant to escape from PICC.

The city claimed Tuesday that the union "forged" a preliminary incident report that noted the two inmates' unit had been "unmanned due to staff shortage" on Sunday night. The prisons department shared its own report that did not include information about whether security staff were present in the inmates' unit and at the perimeter of the facility when the two men escaped.

David Robinson, president of Local 159 of AFSCME District Council 33, told the Inquirer he "can't believe" that any corrections officer would help the inmates escape, considering the consequences of getting caught.

Carney said the prison's staffing at the the time of the escape is part of an ongoing internal investigation. Philadelphia police and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections also are investigating the escape.

Philadelphia police have arrest warrants for Hurst and Grant. The department's Northeast Detectives are working with U.S. Marshals to find the two inmates.

There is a $25,000 reward being offered by the city and U.S. Marshals for information leading to the arrests of Hurst and Grant, who are considered dangerous. Anyone with information on their whereabouts can call the Northeast Detectives at (215) 686-3153, the police tip line at (215) 546-TIPS, or 911.