Jail Escapee Caught

Police and fire scan

August 04, 1991

CLARKSBURG, W. VA., — A 27-year-old former West George Street resident who escaped from the Harrison County, W.Va., jail in which he was awaiting sentencing for sexual assault was captured last week in an abandoned shack on Moonshine Mountain, police said.

Richard John "Dickie" Swiger is wanted by Westminster City Police in connection with several peeping Tom incidents and burglaries.

A few weeks before his May 27 escape, Swiger pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault in an attack on a 17-year-old woman last September, said Sgt. John Walker of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Clarksburg Police Department.

Swiger was awaiting sentencing in the Harrison County Correctional Center when he escaped, Walker said.

Chief Deputy Wayne Godwin of the Harrison County Sheriff's Department said Swiger escaped from the maximum security floor of the correctional center when a door was left open while inmates were receiving medication.

He crawled into a hole in a wall that had never been repaired and climbed onto the roof of the building, Godwin said. Using a garden hose, Swiger was able to scale the five-story building and escape.

Godwin said there had been several sightings of Swiger over the past several weeks, including some in Maryland.

A tip led sheriff's deputies to an abandoned shack on Moonshine Mountainaround 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. They found Swiger hiding under a table, Godwin said.

Westminster City Police have open warrants on Swiger because he is wanted on charges of indecent exposure and trespassing at a home on Bond Street June 28, said Lt. Dean Brewer.

He also isa suspect in several similar incidents that occurred in Westminster last summer.

The Westminster charges were pending completion of Swiger's trial and sentencing in West Virginia.

Swiger fled the arealast August after Brewer and state police Trooper Steven Burdelski went to Swiger's home to question him about the incidents. He fled on foot when the two men identified themselves as police officers.

A little more than a month later, Swiger was charged in the West Virginia attack.

Godwin said Swiger could be extradited to Carroll to face the Westminster charges after his sentencing for the sexual assault charge and a hearing on the escape charge.

Swiger faces a minimum of 10 years in prison for the sexual assault charge and up to 10 years in prison for escape.


WESTMINSTER -- Crime in Carroll was up 8 percent for the first six months of 1991, state police reported.

Crime across the state also increased in the firsthalf of this year. According to statistics from the Maryland UniformCrime Reporting section, crime in Maryland was up 9 percent over theperiod of January to June 1990.

The crime with the highest percentage increase was murder. In the first six months of 1990, there was one county murder. During the same period this year, there have been four murders, police said.

Robbery increased 10 percent, theft wasup 16 percent and car theft jumped 45 percent, police said.

Not all crime in Carroll increased, the statistics show.

Breaking and enterings decreased by 11 percent, aggravated assault went down by 40 percent and rapes dropped by 6 percent.

So far this year, 114 morecrimes have been reported in Carroll. Last year at this time, 1,346 crimes had been reported.

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ELDERSBURG -- State police are still searching for a suspect in connection with the theft of anight deposit bag at Westminster Bank and Trust on Liberty Road lastweek.

State police said the manager of American Pizza in Eldersburg was making a deposit around midnight Tuesday when two white males between 18 and 20 years old came through the parking lot and stole the bag.

The two men fled on foot to the Carroll Highlands neighborhood, the manager told police.

The neighborhood was searched by uniformed troopers and a Baltimore County Police K-9 Unit.


TOWSON -- Three people -- including one man who escaped fromthe Sykesville Central Laundry Camp -- pleaded guilty Tuesday in Baltimore County Circuit Court to breaking into the Painters Mill Music Fair March 18.

William Edward Harlow Jr. of Baltimore, 21, is one of two men police say escaped from the laundry camp the night before the break-in at the theater.

Police charge that after the break-in, an arson fire was set that caused more than $250,000 in damage and forced the theater to close.

Under a plea agreement with BaltimoreCounty prosecutors, Harlow faces up to seven years in prison for thebreak-in.

Freddie Lee Ferguson, 28 and Debra Ann Mann, 23, both of Owings Mills, also pleaded guilty to the charges. They each face upto 10 years in prison.

Police and prosecutors say Ferguson and Mann met Harlow and fellow laundry camp inmate Bradley David Spitler atthe theater after the two men escaped from the camp.

Spitler, 21,of Belcamp, is charged with setting the fire after the break-in. No plea agreement has been reached in his case.


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