Tennessee death row inmate Christa Pike tries to escape prison

    2:43 PM, Mar 23, 2012   |    comments
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    NASHVILLE, TN (CNN/ WATE/WSMV) -- The lone death row inmate at the Tennessee Prison for Women is caught trying to put together an escape plan. Christa Pike, 36 is staying behind bars and her two alleged accomplices have been charged.

    It's a plot made for a Hollywood movie. A death row inmate somehow convinces a prison guard and a man from New Jersey to help her get out of prison. Dorinda Carter with the Tennessee Dept. of Corrections says, "Anytime there's a threat to one of our prisons, there's a threat to the public and we take this very seriously."

    The exact escape plan is still being investigated by the Department of Corrections and the TBI, but we're told prison officials were tipped off early on. Carter says, "We do monitor phone calls, we do receive information from various sources and we investigate that information whenever we receive a tip or even the slightest possibility that their might be a threat to the prison."

    According to investigators, Donald Kohut somehow became acquainted with Pike and began frequently visiting her here, at the Tennessee Prison for Women. It's Kohut, police say, who then began bribing Justin Heflin, a 23-year-old guard. Carter says, "There may have been some exchange of either gifts or money with the officer to assist in this plot."

    The plot was discovered in January and according to the Department of Correction, quickly stopped. Carter says, "We were able to take action fairly quickly we believe with assistance from TBI to prevent this threat from being carried out."

    Heflin faces a number of charges, including bribery and conspiracy to commit escape. Pike has been disciplined by the prison system and will likely also face criminal charges.

    Pike was sentenced to death in March of 1996 for murdering a 19-year-old woman on the campus of the University of Tennessee in 1995.

    She sliced the victim hundreds of times with box cutters and a meat cleaver before finally beating her to death with a rock.

    Pike is also serving time for attempting to murder a fellow inmate in 2004.

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