Prisoner escapes Pa. prison

August 23, 2004|by DON AINES

Pennsylvania State Police Sunday evening were looking for a Franklin County Prison inmate who an official said took advantage of a malfunctioning lock to get out of his cellblock and go over the razor-wire fence Sunday morning.

Jeffrey Donald Cole, also known as Jeffrey Donald Corle, was discovered missing at about 6:30 a.m. during the hourly head count of A-block, Warden John Wetzel said.

Wetzel said the lock on the gate leading out of A-block apparently was not working. The gate also had a padlock, which Cole allegedly was able to pry open using a metal bar used to support a sink in the latrine.


"He popped the padlock," said Wetzel. "He's one guy who outsmarted our old equipment."

A-block is where the general population of the main prison building is housed, according to Wetzel. The gate was installed in 1992, he said.

The individual cells in the block have no locks, so Cole was able to leave his cell between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m., leave the cellblock and get over a 10-foot fence topped with razor wire, Wetzel said. Cole might have used the plastic cover of a pillow to protect himself from cuts while scaling the fence, Wetzel said.

"There's no excuse for this. It shouldn't have happened and it won't happen again," said Wetzel, who has not had a prisoner escape from the main building on Franklin Farm Lane since he arrived in 2002. "We get paid to keep inmates in and that didn't happen," he said.

The lock on the gate is being replaced and a new padlock was secured to the door, he said.

There have been escapes from the work-release building next door and it is not unusual for inmates to fail to return from work-release assignments. In July, an inmate allegedly jumped from his employer's vehicle on Pa. 30 while it was stopped at a traffic light. He was on a work-release job and was being returned to the prison when the incident occurred, police said He later was captured.

Cole is white, 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds. His head is shaved, according to Wetzel. He probably was wearing a gray sweat shirt, gray sweat pants, a white T-shirt and white sneakers when he escaped, Wetzel said.

"It appears as if he proceeded down along a cornfield until he passed the Human Services Building and then entered the cornfield," Wetzel wrote in a news release.

Cole had been held in the jail since June 18 when he was arrested by Waynesboro (Pa.) police on a charge of receiving stolen property, according to prison records. He also was being held on two detainers from Maryland, Wetzel said.

The first, under his alias, was for a parole violation on a grand larceny conviction that was issued by the Maryland Parole Commission, according to prison records. The second was issued by the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County.

According to that detainer, Cole was wanted on a charge of assault in the first degree, two counts of attempting to elude a police officer, failure to stop after an accident, failure to return to and remain at the scene of an accident, and failure to report an accident.

Cole was being held for trial in Franklin County on the charge of receiving stolen property.

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