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Police: Escapee not 'very cooperative'

January 23, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

After convicted murderer Kandelario Garcia-Ramos was recaptured Thursday afternoon - five days after his escape from a state prison south of Hagerstown - Maryland State Police were trying to piece together where he had been and what he had been doing during the time he was on the loose.

"He wasn't being very cooperative, not even about who he was," Sgt. T.J. McKenrick said Friday.

Garcia-Ramos, 23, was taken to the state's maximum-security North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., after he was apprehended. He escaped from Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown on Jan. 17, apparently by scaling two fences -- one 12 feet high and the other 18 feet high -- topped with razor wire, prison officials said.

Authorities said they believe Garcia-Ramos laid a jacket over the higher fence to get over the razor wire.

Garcia-Ramos was recaptured after police were called Thursday afternoon to the Sheetz store at U.S. 40 and Md. 66 after employees reported a suspicious person loitering in the store, talking on a cell phone and drinking coffee.

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When police arrived, the man ran. With police in pursuit, he pulled a knife, police said.

Troopers believe Garcia-Ramos might have been staying in outbuildings near the convenience store, Sgt. S. Wallace said Friday afternoon.

While the inmate was on the run, authorities received several calls about potential sightings, although some of the calls claimed he was in Martinsburg, W.Va., and that clearly was not correct, Wallace said.

McKenrick said state and county police were looking into several burglaries that occurred during the time Garcia-Ramos was at large.

Those included a break-in on Mill Point Road and another on Benevola Church Road, McKenrick said.

After Garcia-Ramos was apprehended, police searching a field through which he was chased found items that included knives, jewelry, a camera and sunglasses.

A camera had been taken from a church that was burglarized, Knight said.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Lt. Mark Knight said investigators were piecing together information and had not determined whether Garcia-Ramos might be linked to the burglaries.

An interpreter was called in to help question Garcia-Ramos, who spoke very little English, but not much information was obtained, McKenrick said.

Garcia-Ramos is expected to be assigned to another prison for completion of his first-degree murder sentence and to await prosecution for the escape and possible crimes committed while he was at large.

No information on any new charges was available from the Washington County State's Attorney's office or the Division of Correction.

At the time of his escape, Garcia-Ramos was serving a 40-year sentence for stabbing to death his former boss in his Prince George's County tire shop in 2007. The attack on Fernando Monge was caught on surveillance video, and Garcia-Ramos entered an Alford plea to a first-degree murder charge in June.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to gain a conviction.

Despite initial reports that Garcia-Ramos was affiliated with the MS-13 gang, prison authorities believe he had no gang affiliation, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services spokesman Rick Binetti said Friday afternoon. Garcia-Ramos never said anything about being a self-professed gang member and none of the prison intelligence indicated he was affiliated with any such group, Binetti said.

Staff writer Erin Julius contributed to this story.

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