3 youths flee after transfer from Cedar Knoll

June 02, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Three youths marked their transfer from the D.C.-run Cedar Knoll Youth Detention Center in Laurel by escaping Sunday, less than 24 hours before the facility was closed under a mandate from Congress.

The three boys, ranging in age from 15 to 17, walked away Sunday night from the Forest Haven complex, a defunct mental institution used for for an alcoholic rehabilitation program. The three were still missing yesterday.

Larry Brown, a spokesman for the D.C. Department of Human Services, said the youths are not considered dangerous. Their crimes included running away from a group home and drug possession.

Mr. Brown noted the difficulty of transferring 150 youths from the secured Cedar Knoll facility to various institutions and group homes in Washington and four other states. He said 20 inmates were forced to stay overnight at Forest Haven, located next to Cedar Knoll.

He said an "adequate number" of guards and counselors were with the group, and that an investigation is under way to discover how the three got away.

The escape did not sit well with politicians and West County residents who attended a news conference yesterday morning in front of the now-empty facility, located near Route 32 and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

The news particularly upset local residents, who have lived with Cedar Knoll and its repeated escapes for years.

Between 1990 and 1992, 177 youths either escaped from the then-unfenced complex or failed to return from weekend passes.

A 16-year-old who went AWOL from a school assignment in Washington in 1991 was charged with the robbery and killing of a Capitol Heights store clerk.

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