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Phelps County inmate, charged with planning to shoot immigrants, captured by police

Jonathan O'Dell's mugshot overlays security camera footage of him escaping from the Phelps County Jail in Rolla, MO, on Sept. 29, 2023 after 11 p.m.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Jonathan O'Dell is seen on security camera footage escaping from the Phelps County Jail in Rolla on Friday.

Update at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 with O’Dell’s capture. 

Authorities captured a Phelps County inmate, who’d broken out of the Rolla jail late Friday, in Ray County near Kansas City around 5 p.m. on Sunday, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI, Missouri State Highway Patrol and Ray County’s Sheriff's Office said the agencies took Jonathan O’Dell, 33, into custody without incident.

Original story from Sept. 30:

A Phelps County inmate, who faces federal charges accusing him of planning to travel to Texas to shoot immigrants crossing the border illegally and any U.S. Border Patrol agent who tried to stop him, escaped from jail on Friday night.

Jonathan O’Dell of Warsaw, Missouri, and another inmate broke out of the Rolla jail by “compromising the structural integrity of his cell,” according to the FBI. The second inmate turned himself into law enforcement a short time later.

The FBI and the Phelps County Sheriff’s Office are continuing to search for O’Dell. Law enforcement officials consider O’Dell, a member of a group that calls itself the “2nd American Militia,” to be extremely dangerous because of numerous weapons charges.

O'Dell escaped from the Phelps County Jail in Rolla, MO, on Friday night by “compromising the structural integrity of his cell," according to law enforcement.
Jonathan Ahl
St. Louis Public Radio
O'Dell escaped from the Phelps County Jail in Rolla on Friday night, law enforcement officials said.

Federal agents arrested O’Dell and another member of the group last October after they planned to carry out a search, according to the FBI press release. The agents said they were fired at multiple times but did not return fire.

A federal grand jury in Jefferson City later indicted O’Dell and the other member on 44 counts, including conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to assault federal officers and employees.

The two militia members tried to recruit others into their group, according to the indictment. Numerous social media posts by O’Dell and phone conversations detailed their plans to travel to the U.S.-Mexico border and commit murder.

“We’re out to shoot to kill,” O’Dell said in a video posted to TikTok, according to the indictment. “Our group is gonna go protect this country,” he said later in the same video.

On the day the FBI arrested the two defendants, they’d gathered six firearms, 23 magazines filled with ammunition, 1,770 rounds of various other ammunition, two sets of body armor vests, a handheld radio, two sniper rests, two gas masks, two items that appeared to be ballistic helmets and multiple explosive containers, the indictment said.

O’Dell, a 33-year-old white male, is 6-feet-1 and about 200 pounds, according to law enforcement. He has brown hair, blue eyes and a full beard. Authorities said he may have shaved his beard to disguise his identity.

He has known associates around central Missouri places like Warsaw, Springfield and Columbia, according to the FBI.

Law enforcement requests that anyone with information on O’Dell’s whereabouts contact authorities immediately.

Will Bauer is the Metro East reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.