ESCAPEES HAD HELP
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By JIM COCHRAN
April 5, 1988
West Virginia Penitentiary Warden Jerry Hedrick said Monday prison officials strongly believe the three inmates who escaped Sunday night had transportation waiting for them once they reached the street in front of the facility.
The warden said tracking dogs from Belmont County were brought to the institution shortly after the men were discovered missing late Sunday, and the dogs tracked the scents of the men across the street into the middle of the parking lot of the Delf Norona Museum where they lost the trail.
All three inmates – Tommie Mollohan, 46, Bobby Dean Stacy, 36 and David Williams, 29 – were serving life sentences without mercy for murder.
The warden said none of the escapees had weekend visitors.
Hedrick said that during the weekend Mollohan had claimed his eyes were irritated and he went to the infirmary for medical attention.
The warden said during the distribution of medications Sunday night that the escape was detected. He said one of the three was not in his cell, and as a result an emergency count was instituted and during the count it was determined that two other inmates were also unaccounted for.
Hedrick said, “Something wasn’t right with security, something was overlooked, and when this happens the inmates will tell you.”
However, the warden said during a news conference Monday, “It has been business as usual today.”
Hedrick explained that the men, all of whom are assigned to inside maintenance work, made their way into an elevator shaft in the infirmary. They then knocked a hole in a wall to gain entry to the “stoop” area, and from there made their way to an elevator shaft in the Old Administration Building.
“Once inside the elevator shaft in the Old Administration Building they had access to the entire unit which is unoccupied,” Hedrick said. He added, “They then made their way to a second story window and with the use of a metal pipe and a telephone type cable lowered themselves to the ground, in an area hidden from the street and the nearest tower by huge ventilation unit which has yet to be installed on the roof of the North Hall housing unit.”
The prison yard is surrounded by a chain link fence, but two sections have been converted into a gate to permit outside workman access, it was through this gate that the inmates fled the prison grounds by cutting the lock with bolt cutters which they had taken from the “stoop” area where the tools are secured.
Hedrick said he believed the three men had a certain bond, since they worked together and two of them were housed in the same tier in the Now Wall housing unit.
State Police Issued a statewide all-points bulletin after it was determined the men had escaped. Some 40 law enforcement personnel searched and manned roadblocks in Marshall County with the roadblocks remaining intact until daybreak on Monday. Law enforcement agencies in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania were alerted.
Hedrick described the escapees as dangerous because of the nature of their crimes.