Prisoners escape Carroll laundry facility 2 Baltimore men flee through visitors gate

December 23, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Two Baltimore men escaped Sunday night from the Central Laundry Facility at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, authorities said.

The laundry, which adjoins the south end of the hospital, is a minimum-security prison and houses about 500 inmates serving out their sentences in the Division of Corrections prerelease program. Most work in the laundry.

Brian A. Yount, 19, of the 1700 block of Covington St. in South Baltimore and Ralph Johnson, 41, of the 2100 block of E. North Ave. in East Baltimore ran out a visitors gate as a correctional officer was processing a group of visitors from the facility at 8: 25 p.m., Maxine Eldridge, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said yesterday.

"The guard saw two men run out of the gate and chased them into nearby woods, but was unable to catch them," Eldridge said.

"State police from the Westminster barracks and local police were immediately notified."

A search by police helicopter and dogs was unsuccessful.

Johnson had served 14 years of a 30-year sentence for second-degree murder and has been incarcerated since May 1983, Eldridge said. He was within about two years of becoming eligible for parole, she said.

Yount had been in prison since August, serving a four-year sentence on drug charges, the spokeswoman said.

Warden Thomas Passaro declined to comment yesterday, referring calls to Eldridge.

The Central Laundry Facility, established in 1960, processes about 40 million pounds of blankets and linens for Springfield Hospital Center and three other state mental hospitals.

Inmates have liberal visitation during evenings and weekends. Since most are nearing parole or completion of sentences, few try to escape, prison officials said.

On March 22, 1995, a 40-year-old inmate from New Jersey bolted from a van as he was being returned from the House of Correction in Jessup, where he had been taken for medical treatment.

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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