TUSCUMBIA, Mo. - The Miller County Sheriff's Office says a Chicago-area man accused of murder tried to escape jail with the intention of killing a witness.
Joseph P. McKenna, 27, of Downer Groves, Illinois, is accused of using part of a pencil sharpener to remove tubing in a jail cell window and planning to file through a bar and remove the window to escape, according to a probable cause statement. McKenna planned to meet with friends in the Jefferson City area after his escape and wanted to kill a witness in his case, the statement says.
McKenna also had a backup plan to overwhelm jail staff during a medical incident, according to the statement.
Deputies say another inmate told authorities about the plan during a cell search on June 7.
McKenna was arrested in September in connection with the death of Tyler Worthington, 34, of California, whose body was found in a wooded area in Miller County after he had been shot to death.
Worthington and McKenna were allegedly in Missouri to sell marijuana or oil from the plant, according to a probable cause statement. Investigators found that McKenna had made statements about killing Worthington before Worthington's death.
McKenna is accused of conspiring with Tyler M. Kroll of Lisle, Illinois, to murder Worthington, luring Worthington out of California to Missouri to commit the crime, according to court documents. McKenna also allegedly threatened a witness who had talked to police.
McKenna was originally charged with second-degree murder, but that charge was upgraded to first-degree murder in April. He's also charged with armed criminal action and tampering with a witness. The Miller County prosecutor has said he plans to seek the death penalty.
He is now also charged with attempted escape from custody.