Inmate in Frederick County captured after 3-hour escape

June 15, 1994|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Western Maryland Bureau of The Sun

FREDERICK -- A man awaiting trial on two murder charges scaled a 22-foot-high fence topped with razor wire at the Frederick County Adult Detention Center yesterday, escaping for three hours before he was captured near Interstate 270, authorities said.

Darren E. Witmer, 24, of Frederick surrendered to authorities about 1 p.m. in a wooded part of Monocacy National Battlefield near the southbound lanes of I-270 about a mile southeast of the Frederick County Adult Detention Center, according to the county sheriff's office.

Karl W. Bickel, chief of law enforcement operations for the sheriff's office, said Mr. Witmer had suffered a severe stomach cut while scaling the fence. He was treated at Frederick Memorial Hospital before being returned to jail.

"You're not going to go over a fence like that without sustaining an injury," Barry L. Stanton, corrections bureau chief, said.

Mr. Witmer will be charged with escape and will be placed on administrative segregation -- giving up visitation, recreation and other privileges -- pending a disciplinary hearing, Mr. Stanton said.

The prisoner was awaiting trial in September on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of William C. McSherry Jr., 78, and Owen D. Wilson, 83. Both were killed last winter in their Frederick apartments.

Mr. Bickel said Mr. Witmer escaped as a morning recreation hour ended in a fenced-in area next to the detention center, on Marcies Choice Lane off Route 85 about two miles south of Frederick city limits. He said Mr. Witmer ran into a wooded area southeast of the jail.

No other inmates attempted to escape or seemed to be involved, Mr. Bickel said.

The escape was the first from the detention center, which opened in 1984, Mr. Stanton said.

About 50 Frederick police, county sheriff's deputies, correctional officers and state police officers searched an area of several square miles bounded by the interstate, CSX railroad tracks, the Monocacy River and Baker Valley Road, Mr. Bickel said. Trains were delayed for about two hours during the search, officers said.

Mr. Witmer was apprehended shortly after Frederick County highway workers spotted a bloodied man in cutoff jeans and a T-shirt, authorities said. He had managed to cross the Monocacy River during his getaway, they said.

Police had been patrolling the interstate, which runs southeast from Interstate 70 in Frederick into Montgomery County and suburban Washington, because they thought Mr. Witmer intended to have someone pick him up.

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