Md. prison escapee is arrested in NYC on charges of rape Murderer, two others arrested in a hotel room.

September 05, 1991|By Raymond L. Sanchez | Raymond L. Sanchez,Evening Sun Staff

A convicted murderer, who less than 24 hours earlier had escaped from a Maryland pre-release program, has been charged with the rape of a 14-year-old girl in New York City, authorities said.

Garson Jackson, arrested in Manhattan yesterday with two other men, walked away Tuesday from the minimum-security Southern Maryland Pre-release Unit in Charles County. Jackson, who is 42 and from Dundalk, escaped after serving 24 years of a life prison term for the 1967 rape and fatal stabbing of a Baltimore County woman.

Jackson told the police he walked out of the pre-release unit about 8 a.m. Tuesday because he did not think he would get parole, said New York City Police Lt. Robert Nardoza.

The three suspects surrendered after a brief standoff with New York City police at the Milford Plaza Hotel in the Broadway theater district.

The 14-year-old girl told police she was raped by the three men in a fifth-floor room at the hotel.

Earlier yesterday, police fired four shots into the room after Jackson allegedly reached for a 12-gauge, sawed-off shotgun, Nardoza said. The shotgun was not fired. No injuries were reported.

The other suspects were identified as Steven Shifflett, 29, of Waldorf in Southern Maryland, and Steven Kelly, 40, of Rahway, N.J.

The police initially reported that the three men had been charged with third-degree rape and the attempted murder of a police officer. But the Manhattan district attorney's office said the men will be arraigned today on charges of first- and third-degree rape and weapons violations.

Jackson, who has spent more than half his life in Maryland's penalsystem, walked away from the 175-inmate pre-release unit, which has no fences, said Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the division of correction.

He had been there since January, said Shipley, who characterized pre-release units as having the "lowest level of security" among state prisons.

In June, the Maryland Parole Commission decided to wait another year before considering whether to parole Jackson. Shipley said he didnot know the reason for postponing a parole decision.

Shipley said inmates with life prison terms rarely get parole, but, if it is granted, the average time served is about 20 years.

Jackson, who worked as a printer at the pre-release unit, told police that he escaped because he "heard the governor of Maryland was not going to be giving any paroles," Nardoza said.

New York police said Jackson and Shifflett met in the Maryland

prison system.

Shifflett was paroled in July after serving 4 1/2 years of a seven-year prison term for assault, authorities said.

The Maryland men met Kelly at a bar in Greenwich Village. After a night of drinking, the trio went uptown to the Milford, near Times Square, Nardoza said.

An assistant manager at the hotel said the $100-a-night room was booked in the name of Thomas Shifflett of Baltimore. The man paidcash for the room.

Nardoza said two men picked up the 14-year-old, a resident of Hackensack, N.J., near the Port Authority bus terminal about 4:30 a.m.

The girl told police that another man was asleep with a shotgun by his side when she arrived at the room. She told police she was let go after being raped by the three men.

A Manhattan police investigator, who asked not to be identified, said, "She went with them willingly and there was some kind of [monetary]arrangement between them."

He said the 14-year-old came into Manhattan with an older sister and stayed at the Port Authority bus terminal while the sister met her boyfriend.

Rush-hour traffic was snarled for hours as police surrounded the hotel. Hotel guests were advised to stay in their rooms and elevators were shut down. The Milford said in a statement yesterday: "Three Baltimore guests upset New York City this morning."

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