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Escaped murderer captured

January 22, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Police chased and caught convicted murderer Kandelario Garcia-Ramos on Thursday, five days after he escaped from a state prison south of Hagerstown, authorities said.

Maryland State Police said a clerk at Sheetz at U.S. 40 and Md. 66, east of Hagerstown, called 911 to report a suspicious man loitering in the store.

When police arrived, the man -- who was outside talking on a cell phone and drinking coffee -- ran southwest into a field, at one point pulling out an 8-inch knife as officers chased him, Sgt. T.J. McKenrick said.

After about a mile, police caught him on a local prosecutor's farm.

Garcia-Ramos, 23, was serving a 40-year sentence for stabbing to death his former boss in Prince George's County, Md., in 2007.

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He escaped from Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown on Saturday by climbing two fences -- one 12 feet high, the other 18 feet high -- topped with razor wire, according to Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman Rick Binetti.

Binetti said Monday that Garcia-Ramos laid a jacket over the higher fence to get over it.

Garcia-Ramos escaped the medium-security prison between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. on Saturday as his unit was on its way to or from breakfast at the dining hall, Binetti said Monday.

The circumstances surrounding the escape were still being investigated, including whether procedure was followed and whether disciplinary measures will be taken against any employees, Binetti said Thursday.

McKenrick said Garcia-Ramos was wearing boots and at least four layers of clothing when he was caught Thursday.

He had cuts and scrapes around his hands and wrists, McKenrick said.

Although the man in custody had short, dark hair and Garcia-Ramos' prison booking photo shows him with a shaved head, authorities thought right away they had the escapee. McKenrick said two facial moles matched the photo.

Garcia-Ramos was held at the state police barrack near Hagerstown until a fingerprint analysis verified his identity.

Shortly before 7:30 p.m., Garcia-Ramos, handcuffed and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, was led outside to a Division of Correction van.

Contacted afterward, Binetti said Garcia-Ramos was being taken to North Branch Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison in Cumberland, Md.

It was not clear if or when Garcia-Ramos would be assigned to another prison.

The Gazette in Prince George's County has reported that Garcia-Ramos was caught on tape stabbing his former boss at Two Brothers Tire City in Brentwood, Md., on Dec. 26, 2007, a few weeks after he had been fired.

The victim, Fernando Monge, 44, of Silver Spring, Md., was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Gazette.

Garcia-Ramos was living in Langley Park, Md., but was not a U.S. citizen and likely would be deported after serving his sentence, the Gazette reported, quoting the Prince George's state's attorney's office.

Garcia-Ramos was born in Mexico, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman Mark Vernarelli said Wednesday.

The escape was scheduled to be mentioned on an upcoming episode of "America's Most Wanted."

McKenrick said Garcia-Ramos was caught at about 3:15 p.m. Thursday, around 45 minutes after the Sheetz clerk called 911.

Sheetz employees declined to comment, saying they aren't allowed to talk to reporters.

Trooper 1st Class Michael Hegedus of the state police and Washington County Sheriff's Department Deputy 1st Class Kenneth Cain, the first two officers on the scene, approached Garcia-Ramos, then chased him when he ran, McKenrick said.

Officers from other departments responded and joined the chase.

McKenrick said Garcia-Ramos went through Beaver Creek in his attempt to elude officers and was soaking wet when he was caught behind a residential development near Md. 66.

During a brief stop at the state police barrack Thursday evening, Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said it was on his farm where Garcia-Ramos was apprehended.

Hancock Police Chief T.J. Buskirk and his K-9, Rambo, along with other officers, searched the field behind Sheetz after Garcia-Ramos was caught, looking for items he supposedly jettisoned during the chase.

McKenrick said Garcia-Ramos dropped knives, jewelry, a camera and sunglasses along the way.

State police said the sheriff's department, the Boonsboro, Hancock and Smithsburg police departments, and the Division of Correction assisted in the case.

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