Monopoly hat, shank suspected as being part of escape attempt at Routt County Jail
Steamboat Springs — Lucas Johnson now faces escape charges after deputies discovered a shank in his jail cell, as well as a hole in the cinder block wall.
Johnson is being held at the Routt County Jail on suspicion of murdering Steamboat Springs resident Edward Zimmerman.
Johnson and his wife, Kristen Johnson, were charged after Zimmerman’s body was found March 4 in a shed outside the Johnsons’ rental home in rural Routt County between Steamboat Springs and Stagecoach. Zimmerman was reported missing Feb. 28 after not showing up for work.
According to court documents, prosecutors thought Zimmerman was murdered, and the Johnsons stole Zimmerman’s medical marijuana plants.
On Tuesday, jail deputies shook down Lucas Johnson’s cell and discovered a shank, the affidavit states. The shank was a piece of metal about 2 1/2 inches long. Wrapped in fabric on one end of the shank was what appeared to be a Monopoly hat game piece.
Behind the metal bed frame in the cell, deputies found a hole in the cinder block that was about 5 inches by 3 1/2 inches. The affidavit does not state how deep the hole was.
“This hole is located on an exterior wall of the facility, where, if completed, could provide access to the outside of the facility,” the affidavit states.
When deputies asked Johnson what the purpose of the shank was, Johnson said that, on Sunday, he had talked to his mother, who told him his wife and children were moving into public housing in Florida. Kristen Johnson had been released from custody after being issued a personal recognizance bond.
When Lucas Johnson learned about his family moving into public housing, he got upset.
Johnson told deputies he has “a little bit of money on the outside, but no one can get to it, and he was thinking about getting to it to give to his family,” according to the affidavit.
Johnson repeatedly said the shank was not for hurting anyone. He then revealed there was another shank in his cell in an electrical outlet, the affidavit states. Deputies found the shank, which was similar to the other one.
Johnson said he got the metal from railing and fencing at the jail, according to the affidavit.
A maintenance supervisor estimated it could cost between $3,000 and $4,000 to repair the damage because it was a secured jail cell wall.
Johnson now faces new felony charges of first-degree introducing contraband, attempt to escape and criminal mischief.
Johnson appeared in court Wednesday to be advised of the new charges.
Also on Wednesday, he was due in court for the Zimmerman homicide case. During that hearing, Judge Shelley Hill granted a request from the Public Defender’s Office to no longer represent Johnson.
In court filings, the Public Defender’s Office stated there was a conflict of interest, but it did not elaborate.
Alternate defense counsel will be appointed.
During a Sept. 29 hearing, it was revealed Johnson was considering pleading guilty to second-degree murder and a 48-year prison sentence.
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