4 blades for hacksaw are found in Supermax Prison officials find blades in cell during search after escape.

December 05, 1991|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Evening Sun Staff

C Merle W. Unger Jr., Maryland's master escape artist, was at it again. A correctional officer Tuesday found four hacksaw blades in Unger's cell in the state's "Supermax" prison, a spokesman says.

The officer discovered the blades during a prison shakedown prompted by the escape Saturday of a convicted murderer, according to Sgt. Gregory M. Shipley, a state prison spokesman.

Harold Benjamin Dean, who was serving life plus 105 years, escaped by climbing out a cell window and onto the roof of Supermax, which is in central Baltimore.

Dean and an accomplice used saw blades similar to the ones found in Unger's cell to cut through part of the window, officials say. Dean has not been caught.

Unger, 42, has escaped eight times from prisons in three states. His most recent escape came in November 1990 when he cut his way through the fence at a local jail near Tampa, Fla. Police caught him in Virginia eight days later.

Unger escaped from the Patuxent Institution in Jessup in July 1981. He was serving life plus 15 years for the 1975 murder of a Hagerstown police officer, as well as 10 additional years for escaping from the Washington County jail.

When he was brought back to Maryland earlier this year, Unger was immediately placed in the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, also known as Supermax, the state's most secure prison.

The blades found in Unger's cell were 10 1/4 inches long and made of carbide steel. They were hidden inside a piece of cardboard that backed a piece of art in Unger's cell, Shipley says.

"An alert officer decided to look in that and actually peeled the picture off of the backing," Shipley says. "That's how thorough these officers had to be."

Shipley says he doesn't know if Unger would face any charges for having the blades.

"We're just pleased that they found them," Shipley says.

Prison officials announced plans to fire two guards and discipline a third for not following security procedures in Dean's escape.

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