Search continues for Tipton County inmate who failed to return from funeral furlough

Jay Dyvig and Jennifer Lemasters

TIPTON, Ind. — The last time anybody in law enforcement saw Jay Douglas Dyvig was Saturday morning when he walked out of the Tipton County Jail on a promise to return 12 hours later after attending his uncle’s funeral in Chesterfield.

He never came back.

“His sister picked him up at 8 a.m. and from that point that was the last contact we had with Mr. Dyvig,” said Chief Deputy Mike Tarrh. “When he did not return at around 8 p.m. his sister actually was contacted and she stated that he did not intend to come back.”

Tarrh said the family told investigators Dyvig never actually went to the funeral, though nobody thought to advise the sheriff’s office of the change in plans.

A search is on for Dyvig and his girlfriend, Jennifer Lemaster, as police have received conflicting reports as to whether the couple has a gun but no transportation, so they may still be close to home.

“Mr. Dyvig and Miss Lemaster are both from Tipton and we’re not sure at this time where they are at,” said Tarrh. “We’ve had reports that they might be at various locations in Hamilton County and Noblesville. We’ve had those three different locations checked and negative results up to this time.”

Dyvig’s attorney petitioned Tipton Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lett on Feb. 14 to allow his client to attend the Feb. 23 funeral.

Dyvig had been jailed Jan. 3 for three felonies, robbery resulting in bodily injury, criminal confinement and criminal confinement resulting in bodily injury.

The teenager celebrated his 18th birthday behind bars last month and that delay into adulthood played a role in the prosecutor’s decision to not oppose Dyvig’s funeral furlough request.

Prosecutor Jay Rich told FOX59 News that his decision was based on “feelings as a human being” and that Dyvig’s lack of violent criminal history before his alleged crime as a 17-year-old led him to agree to the teen’s temporary release without conditions.

When asked if conditions such as a law enforcement escort or commitment to the custody of an adult relative would be considered in future furloughs, Rich said no change in policy was contemplated and each request would be decided on a “case-by-case” basis.

Tarrh said the sheriff’s office might reconsider its policy. Judge Lett refused comment.

Sheriff’s officials said there have been a handful of funeral furloughs from the Tipton County Jail in the last six years, but Dyvig is the first to violate the honor system and not return.

In 1989, Alan Metheny, an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility, was given an eight-hour pass to visit Indianapolis and instead drove to Mishawaka where he beat his ex-wife Lisa Bianco to death with a shotgun. The stunning case caused then-Gov. Evan Bayh to end the IDOC furlough program.

Metheny was later executed at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.

In 2005 and 2006 a convicted killer, Paula Willoughby, was twice granted funeral furloughs from the Indiana Women’s Prison over the reservations of then-Marion County Sheriff Frank Anderson.

Both times Willoughby was in the custody of Perry Township Deputy Constables under the authority of Constable Roy Houchins who received campaign finance donations from the woman’s father, millionaire businessman Harrison Epperly.

Willoughby was returned to custody each time and continued serving her sentence until an early release in 2009.

Houchins later died on the verge of being charged with felony theft for the removal of a handgun from the IMPD property room.

Willoughby’s controversial sentence reduction and subsequent early release was approved by then-Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi which led to the indictment of his Chief Deputy Prosecutor David Wiser who admitted to taking improper gratuities from the attorney who helped negotiate the convicted killer’s parole.

Tarrh is hoping social media outreach and press coverage will result in tips to track down the fugitive and his girlfriend.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Dyvig and Lemaster is asked to call the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office at (765) 675-2111.

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