By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Authorities catch escaped prisoner
1216 SKP
Virgil Elsner

Effingham County Sheriff’s deputies didn’t take long to catch a prisoner who fled Thursday from a state prison work camp on Sand Hill Road south of Blue Jay Road.

Virgil Elsner, 21, was last seen wearing an orange jump suit with “State Prisoner” on the back. Elsner, of Riverdale, was found in a wooded area off Blue Jay Road shortly after 1 p.m. An Effingham County Sheriff’s K-9 led four deputies and a state Department of Natural Resources game warden to the area where Elsner was, according to ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor, and Elsner was taken back into custody without incident.

At approximately 10:30 a.m., deputies were notified by the Georgia Department of Corrections that one of their inmates had escaped. Deputies, with the assistance of the Georgia State Patrol, immediately set up a perimeter between Highway 17 and Sand Hill Road and down toward Highway 80. The ECSO notified the public and neighboring residents, and both Marlow and Sand Hill elementary schools were placed on lockdown following the escape.

More than 50 law enforcement officers were involved in the search when Elsner was found by deputies. The search was conducted by the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service, Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department Aviation Unit and the GSP.

According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Elsner was convicted earlier this year for two counts of robbery, one count of possession of a firearm during commission of a crime and possession of a firearm by a first offender. He was sentenced to 15 years on the robbery charges and five years on the firearms charges.

Elsner’s incarceration began Nov. 14 and his maximum possible release date was April 3, 2021.

Deputies turned him back over to prison officials after he was captured. Additional charges are expected.