Police arrest 2nd escapee at mother's home

July 21, 1994|By Melody Simmons and Kate Shatzkin | Melody Simmons and Kate Shatzkin,Sun Staff Writers

Police today arrested John A. Wagner, a fugitive since escaping with another inmate from the Baltimore City Detention Center nine days ago.

Mr. Wagner was arrested without incident at his mother's home in West Baltimore. A spokesman for a special law enforcement task force said the arrest was made about 3:45 a.m. as officers followed up a tip about the escaper's whereabouts.

Mr. Wagner, 21, and Edward G. Cooper, 32, escaped July 13 through a third-floor window facing Constitution Street, and down a 70-foot long rope that had been fashioned from bedsheets. A hacksaw had been used to cut through a security grille in their dormitory space, giving the escapers access to a walkway and the outside window.

Mr. Cooper was arrested last Thursday in northeast Baltimore.

Andrew Manning, an FBI special agent and spokesman for a multi-jurisdictional task force of law enforcement officers, said that a group of officers went to the home of Mr. Wagner's mother in the 700 block of N. Fremont Ave. and arrested him without incident.

The fugitive first was taken to the Golden Ring Barracks of the state police after his arrest, Mr. Manning said.

LaMont W. Flanagan, commissioner of Pretrial Detention and Services for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said Mr. Wagner then was returned to a super maximum-security wing of the detention center.

Mr. Cooper has been under super maximum security since being caught a week ago.

The arrests were made by the Maryland Joint Violent Crime Fugitive Task Force, which consists of 15 officers from the Baltimore City and Baltimore County police departments, the Maryland State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Mr. Flanagan said Mr. Wagner apparently was the main participant in setting up the escape, because his bed was closest to the security grille, allowing it to be cut with hacksaw blades undetected. Escape charges will be filed against Mr. Wagner shortly, Mr. Flanagan said.

"I'm thankful both these defendants have been apprehended and have not impacted on public safety by hurting anyone," Mr. Flanagan said.

Mr. Manning said the task force had received numerous tips on Mr. Wagner's location during the days he was a fugitive, but officers could not get to the locations in time before Mr. Wagner had fled

Last night, a tip was received at the FBI's Woodlawn headquarters where the task force was working, that Mr. Wagner was at his mother's house.

Mr. Cooper, whose last known address was the 800 block of N. Broadway, had been awaiting trial since April in lieu of $180,000 bail on charges of armed robbery and assault.

Mr. Wagner, of the first block of S. Monroe St., had been held for nearly one year in lieu of $150,000 bail on charges stemming from the armed robbery of a business.

The escape, the first at the Baltimore City Detention Center since the state took over daily operations of the facility three years ago, prompted Mr. Flanagan to order extra security measures at the Jail Industries Building last week.

Mr. Flanagan ordered that 2-foot high steel plates be welded to the security grilles surrounding all dormitories in the building to prevent prisoners from cutting through the grilles without being seen.

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