TV show leads to capture of 2

October 18, 1990|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

An escapee from the Allegany County Detention Center, and a prison guard who allegedly helped him flee, were arrested today by Canadian police in Hamilton, Ontario.

The escapee, Edgar Eugene Kerns Jr., 30, of Martinsburg, W.Va., and guard Sandra Kay Beeman, 46, of Frostburg, were arrested at 4 a.m. after a Hamilton motel employee recognized them on the "Unsolved Mysteries" television program and called police, said Gary Simpson, an Allegany County undersheriff.

Police tracked the pair to a second hotel in Hamilton, where they had moved shortly before the television show aired.

The program, which regularly features unsolved crimes, aired at 8 o'clock last night and was seen in Hamilton on a Buffalo, N.Y., affiliate of NBC.

Staff Sgt. Robert Buck, a spokesman for the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Police, said a SWAT team of 10 officers broke into the hotel room and arrested the pair without incident. No weapons were found.

The fugitives were being held pending extradition proceedings.

Kerns, who was awaiting sentencing on charges of grand larceny and writing bad checks, escaped Aug. 29 from the detention center in Cumberland with another inmate, James Vernon Barnes, 35, of Romney, W.Va.

Barnes had been sentenced to 50 years in prison in Virginia for rape, kidnapping and robbery. He was awaiting trial in Cumberland for rape, kidnapping and assault.

The pair fled the detention center with Beeman, and at first police thought she had been abducted. Further investigation led them to believe she had helped in the escape.

A warrant charging Beeman with aiding in the escape was issued Sept. 1 after the former beautician telephoned her 21-year-old daughter in Frostburg to tell her: "I'm fine. I'm with him."

Barnes was tracked down and captured Sept. 2 in a summer house near Romney, about 35 miles from the Detention Center in Cumberland. He told police that Beeman was with Kerns, police said.

Buck said the owners of a "low-end" motel on the shore of Lake Ontario called Hamilton police at 9:15 p.m. to report they had recognized a couple featured earlier on "Unsolved Mysteries" as fugitives from Maryland.

After checking with the FBI, Buck said, Hamilton police at 1:30 a.m. broke into the motel room the couple had rented for three weeks, but found it empty. Officers then tracked them through a cab company to a hotel in downtown Hamilton, where they were arrested.

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