Jail escapee found hiding in trash bin

On loose for 2 days, fugitive is captured at shopping center

Injuries from razor wire

Trial was scheduled this week on charges in robbery, shooting

April 08, 2001|By Alec MacGillis | Alec MacGillis,SUN STAFF

A maximum-security inmate who braved two razor-wire fences to escape from the Anne Arundel County Detention Center was captured yesterday in Annapolis, after two days of freedom.

Apparently, for all the effort it took to get out of jail, he had nowhere to go.

City police found fugitive Derrick Dion Jones, 23, lying in a trash bin loaded with cardboard boxes behind a shopping center in the 1900 block of West St. about 3:30 p.m. He had been seen earlier in the day begging outside a Wendy's fast-food restaurant.

"He was just laying motionless in the Dumpster. We told him to get out and he just lay there. I don't know if he was playing possum or what," said Officer Hal Dalton. But after a few moments, Jones complied and climbed out of the trash bin, surrounded by a dozen officers.

Police said they took Jones to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he was treated for cuts suffered in his escape over a pair of 20-foot razor-wire fences at the Jennifer Road jail complex. Hospital spokeswoman Martha Harlan said Jones was treated in the emergency room, then handed over to police.

He was back at the jail last night, police said.

Jones, who formerly lived in the North County community of Pumphrey, was scheduled for trial this week on charges including attempted murder in the shooting of a 61-year-old Annapolis woman during a Christmas Eve robbery. It is one of several cases in which he was awaiting trial.

He escaped from a recreation yard by climbing a razor-wire fence, jumping onto the roof of a housing unit and climbing down another razor-wire fence into a passage between the jail perimeter and West Annapolis fire station.

Dalton said police began receiving reports from residents and workers in the neighborhood about 9 a.m. yesterday that a "suspicious-looking" man was hanging around the 1900 block of West St. Some callers said the man had cuts on his arms, feet and legs, and that he fit the description of Jones.

Police searched the area without success. Then, shortly after 2 p.m., Wendy's manager Greg Williams called to report that a man was bothering customers in the drive-through line, begging them for money.

Police intensified their search of the area, Dalton said, and soon afterward found Jones in his hiding place.

Mike Jones, assistant manager at Rent-a-Center in the shopping plaza on West Street, said he was surprised to hear of the discovery. His employees had carried the cardboard boxes out to the trash bin 90 minutes earlier and hadn't seen anything suspicious, he said.

He and others in the area said they were unfazed by the daylong search for the fugitive, noting that police had not issued any warning that Derrick Jones was armed.

Detention center authorities said the escape may have been made possible by a fight between other inmates that distracted an officer escorting prisoners to the recreation yard. As he fled, Jones lost one of his shoes and a bedsheet that jail officials believed he had stuffed in his pants to protect himself against the razor wire.

Authorities will conduct a review of the escape, according to Richard J. Baker, superintendent of the county's two detention centers. Although county police learned of the escape within about three minutes, Annapolis police dispatch records show the city force did not find out for 20 minutes.

Dalton said police do not know where Jones spent the time between his escape and the sightings yesterday morning. But an employee at Sun & Earth Natural Food in the 1900 block of West St. said a man fitting Jones' description came into the store Friday afternoon carrying some clothes and wearing what appeared to be a prison jumpsuit and a sweater that "didn't look like it fit him."

The employee, Christopher Wynn, said his manager decided against notifying police about the man, although the manager was aware of the search for an escaped inmate.

"We have a lot of people who are kind of weird that come in," he said. "[The manager] didn't want to call and have it not be the guy."

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