Cloverdale teen tries to crawl to freedom

Monday, August 6, 2007
The teenager who tried to escape from the Putnam County Jail Monday morning climbed through this hole in the bathroom ceiling. He ended up in an office where he tried to make his escape through a window.

Police officers and sheriff's deputies kicked off their week by chasing a 17-year-old Cloverdale resident through the ceiling of the Putnam County Jail late Monday morning.

At about 11 a.m., deputies took the teenager into custody after he was arrested for battery and violating probation, said Putnam County Sheriff Mark Frisbie.

Since all juveniles arrested in Putnam County are transported to the Juvenile Detention Facility in Muncie and cannot, under state law, be kept in the jail with adult inmates, Deputy Ronnie Campbell was guarding the teen in the lobby, Frisbie said.

When the teen asked to use the bathroom, Campbell obliged and stood outside. After what the deputy thought was a normal amount of time to use the restroom, Campbell knocked on the door. When there was no answer, he notified Frisbie and another deputy, Frisbee said.

Since the teen had previously threatened to injure himself, Frisbee told the deputy to kick in the locked bathroom door. When the door opened, one of the ceiling tiles above the sink was removed and the boy was nowhere to be seen, Frisbie said.

When the officers realized that the teen had climbed into the ceiling, Frisbie ordered the jail on lockdown and set up a perimeter with deputies. The sheriff also asked Greencastle Police Department officers to keep watch outside the jail, Frisbie said.

With the jail locked down, Campbell climbed into the ceiling after the teen and other deputies began unlocking and clearing the offices, room to room. In the last office in the wing, which was across the hall from the bathroom and several doors down, officers found the teen hiding under a desk after a Greencastle officer saw him attempting to crawl through the window, Frisbee said.

By 11:45 a.m. the teen was back in police hands, handcuffed in a locked room, under the watchful eyes of three deputies.

In addition to his other alleged crimes, the teen will also face charges of attempted escape, resisting arrest, battery of an officer and destruction of country property.

This was the first escape attempt Frisbie has seen in at least four and a half years, he said, and still it was preventable.

"If it weren't for Indiana's antiquated juvenile justice laws, I could have secured him in the jail, away from the adult population," he said. "But Indiana law doesn't let me."

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