Officers suspended after inmate escape

August 24, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

Two correctional officers at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup have been suspended as officials continue an investigation of the escape of an inmate from the maximum security prison last week.

"What we're trying to do with this investigation is look at the entire system here, top to bottom. I want to determine exactly where we might have a security gap and why, and then address it so this doesn't happen again," said Joseph Henneberry, director of the prison, located in Jessup on Route 175, just east of U.S. 1.

"I also want to be as fair as possible in this investigation to the people who work here."

He said that he could not identify the suspended officers by name or rank because of personnel regulations and security considerations. Mr. Henneberry declined to say whether the officers were suspended with pay or not. He also said that due to security reasons he could not yet identify the suspended officers' job assignments.

Mr. Henneberry said prison administrators have determined that the hacksaw and pliers used by inmate Kevin Siler Aug. 17 in the break out did not come from the institution's tool inventory.

"All of our tools are color coded. They are all accounted for," said Mr. Henneberry.

Meanwhile, the Violent Fugitive Task Force -- made up of FBI, State Police, Baltimore city and county police investigators -- has taken over the search for Siler, 31.

Mr. Henneberry said state police investigators are still attempting to determine exactly when Siler was last accounted for in the prison before it was determined he was missing during a noon head count. He said investigators have learned Siler asked for a cup of ice at about 11:15 p.m. last Tuesday.

Patuxent officials determined Siler was missing after corrections officers spotted two window bars missing from his cell around noon last Wednesday.

According to Mr. Henneberry, Siler made cuts on the top and bottom of two steel bars on the window of his cell with a hacksaw. Siler squeezed his 6-foot 1-inch, 180-pound frame through the hole in the window and jumped about two floors into a grassy courtyard.

He scaled a wall surrounding the yard, then used a pair of common pliers to cut a hole in one of two security fences.

After cutting a hole through a razor wire security fence, Siler scaled a 15-foot perimeter fence that is lined on the top with barbed wire. He made his getaway along the back of the prison, which borders a woods that separates the prison property from a residential neighborhood.

A focus of the investigation is determining how the inmate got tools to cut through the steel bars and security fences, and how the escape could have gone unnoticed by corrections officers.

Siler, who is black, is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs 180 pounds. He was serving 29 years for armed robbery and a similar prison escape from a Maryland prison in 1989.

His last address was in the 400 of Woodhaven Road in Baltimore.

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