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Escaped inmate recaptured near prison facility

Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 9:53 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 8:29 AM EDT
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ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) - The manhunt for an inmate who escaped from the prison in St. Johnsbury ended on Monday right back where it began. Our Darren Perron explains.

"He appeared very dehydrated and asked for water," said Norah Quinn, the superintendent of the Northeast Correctional Complex.

That’s how Quinn described escaped inmate Shannon Edwards when he was discovered Monday morning, three days after his escape from the Northeast Correctional Complex in St. Johnsbury. The prison superintendent said Edwards was injured in the fall after scaling the prison’s fence and jumping over. He’s now hospitalized.

Reporter Darren Perron: He was hurt and just stayed in that area the whole weekend?

Norah Quinn: That's what we believe at this time.

Darren Perron: Some folks may wonder how was he missed if he stayed in the area?

Norah Quinn: That’s the purpose of the after-action report is gaining all that knowledge.

That after-action report will also try to detail how this could happen. A source tells me Edwards escaped his living unit by crawling out an open window used for air circulation. Corrections now confirms that.

It appears he used a mattress and a blanket to scale the prison fence. How he got the mattress is under review, too.

Quinn says Edwards was missing for 12 minutes before anyone noticed. An officer discovered his bunk was empty and the search began.

Darren Perron: Is 12 minutes too long an inmate is missing?

Norah Quinn: One minute is too long.

Officers immediately searched around the building and vehicles. A manhunt continued over the weekend but, again, he didn’t get far. He was found crawling out of a ditch near a road on the south side of the building.

Darren Perron: So what went wrong here and is someone at fault?

Norah Quinn: Well, again, that's something the after-action report that will better answer those questions in the future.

Darren Perron: So what's being done now to be sure prisoners can't do the same at your facility?

Norah Quinn: There are several reviews going on with maintenance and security that’s all wrapped up in the after-action report... If there are any issues we correct them.

Darren Perron: So what about this window and this perimeter fence? Is it being more closely monitored? Is that window sealed up?

Norah Quinn: Yes, the window is sealed up. We have a perimeter and after the after-action report will probably be making some changes.

Edwards was convicted of burglary and resisting arrest in October 2019. His earliest possible release date had been March 2022. He will likely now face escape charges.

Edwards’ escape triggered manhunt around St. Johnsbury and the Middlesex-Waterbury area. Police said he posed a potential threat to public safety.

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