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Murderer used jacket in escape

January 19, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- A convicted murderer who escaped from the Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown early Saturday got over two razor wire-topped fences, one 12 feet tall and the other 18 feet tall, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman said Monday.

It is unclear if Kandelario Garcia-Ramos used a jacket to get over a 12-foot fence that comes before a second 18-foot fence, but officials say he did lay a jacket over the razor wire on the 18-foot fence when he crossed over it, Rick Binetti said.

Binetti said officials with his agency are upset over the escape and an internal investigation of the incident is under way.

Although the head of a union that represents correctional officers at the prison said understaffing at the complex off Sharpsburg Pike south of Hagerstown is a problem, Binetti said the escape was not due to a staffing shortage. Binetti said "99 percent of the time," an incident like Saturday's escape is due to someone not following procedures correctly.

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"It's not supposed to happen," Binetti said of the escape.

Binetti and a Maryland State Police spokesman said Monday there have been no sightings of Garcia-Ramos and the search for him is continuing.

Garcia-Ramos, who was serving a 40-year sentence for first-degree murder in connection with a December 2007 stabbing in Prince George's County, Md., apparently scaled the fence at the institution between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. Saturday while his unit was moving to or from the dining hall for breakfast, Binetti said.

Garcia-Ramos separated himself from the group while it was being moved and escaped, Binetti said.

The area where Garcia-Ramos escaped is well-lit and guard towers were staffed at the time, Binetti said.

Patrick Moran, director of AFSCME Maryland, the union that represents state correctional officers at the prison, said shortly after the escape that the incident was due to staffing shortages at the prison. On Monday, Moran said he could not conclusively say understaffing was a factor because he did not have all the details of the escape.

But Moran said understaffing is a problem there.

"It's been a consistent issue throughout the system," Moran said.

Garcia-Ramos is not known to be armed but should be considered dangerous, police said.

Authorities are advising motorists to be wary of hitchhikers and are asking anyone who sees Garcia-Ramos to call 911 immediately.

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