Brian Allen Tucker of Sulphur Springs and John Marlin King of Cumby slipped past a fence around a recreation yard at the Hopkins County Jail around 8 a.m. Tuesday, officials with the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office said.
The two men dumped their jail uniforms on rail tracks near the jail, Deputy Alvin Jordan said. They had white T-shirts and boxer shorts on underneath, and Sheriff Butch Adams said it was possible they had clothes stashed on the outside.
"Certainly, we're going to do our best to get them back," Adams told reporters. "We have a lot of help here from other counties and jurisdictions."
Dispatcher Beth Renfro said a maintenance person noticed a problem with the fence around a recreation yard used by female inmates at the jail in Sulphur Springs, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas. Jordan said the men either slipped through a gap in the fence or they scaled it.
Hours later, deputies and other law enforcement were searching the woods and area east and northeast of the jail.
Tucker was being held on $1 million bond in the 2011 death of Bobby Riley of Mahoney. Riley was found strangled in his home and some music instruments and firearms had been stolen. Jury selection in his murder trial was set to begin June 3.
Tucker was previously convicted of burglary and driving while intoxicated, and has been arrested several times for violating parole.
King was being held on several charges, including evading arrest, burglary and possession of a controlled substance. He's been convicted previously of burglary and possession of a controlled substance. According to court documents, he pleaded guilty last month to the possession charge as a habitual offender and received a sentence of 40 years in prison.
Local schools were locked down as a precaution, though classes were continuing as normal, an official for the Sulphur Springs schools said.
Kris Mitchell, who lives across a field from where officers were focusing their search, said she was telling her family to lock their doors and stay vigilant.
"This land is all ponds, tree lines and brush," Mitchell said. "You could hide pretty easily, I think."