Two inmates walk off work-release

August 11, 2000

Two inmates walk off work-release

By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - One of two men who walked off work-release jobs early Friday morning is believed to be somewhere around the Waynesboro area. The whereabouts of the second man, who police say could be the more dangerous of the two, was unknown Friday evening.

Pennsylvania State Police identified one man as Eric James Smith, 21, of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. He is white, 5 feet 11 inches tall with blue eyes and brown hair and has tattoos on the center of his back, left hand, forearm, ankle and right shoulder.

Smith was serving time for a parole violation after having been originally convicted of simple assault in August 1999 and sentenced to serve one month to a year in jail, according to court records. He was returned to jail in June, according to court records.

The second escapee is Michael Justin Clink, 28, of Westminster, Md. He is white and 6 feet tall with green eyes and blond hair, police said.


Clink was serving a six- to 23-month sentence for robbery, according to court records. He pleaded guilty to robbery on Dec. 8 for the Feb. 5 holdup at Sally Beauty Supply in Chambersburg in exchange for a related vehicle theft charge being dismissed.

When sentencing him Jan. 19, Franklin County Judge John R. Walker gave Clink a choice between serving six months to five years in state prison, or serving six to 23 months in the county prison. The hitch was that Clink would have to serve the local jail sentence at the end of a theft sentence imposed in Maryland.

Prosecutors at the time said the Maryland sentence was to expire in May. Clink could have been released by the end of this year if completed the minimum portion of his local jail sentence.

Cpl. George Cronin said Clink is considered the more dangerous of the two since his was a crime of violence.

"We're wary of Clink. When someone uses force to rob someone you have to put him up a notch or two," Cronin said.

"We think Smith is floating around the Waynesboro area someplace, but we don't know where Clink is," he said.

Cronin declined to say where Clink and Smith were working. They were supposed to report back to the prison at 2:45 a.m.

A Franklin County probation officer was following the two from their jobs back to the prison when they fled. The probation officer gave chase briefly before losing the inmates near Interstate 81 Exit 8, police said.

Lt. Larry Mitchell, spokesman for the prison, said Clink and Smith were the fourth inmates to walk off work-release jobs this year. Last spring two other men walked away in separate incidents on the same day. Both were caught and returned to prison, Mitchell said.

"It's happens, but it's hard to say how often. I don't think we had any last year, but I'm not sure," he said. "Sometimes you go for a year or so and don't have any."

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Clink and Smith is asked to call state police at 1-717-264-5161.

Staff writer Don Aines contributed to this story.

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