MORGANTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Nine teenagers who escaped from a detention center in Pennsylvania after overpowering staff and crawling under a fence were captured less than 12 hours later, state police said Monday.
“It probably was planned, but poorly planned,” said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Beohm.
Beohm said the first four were taken into custody shortly before 6 a.m. after they went to a home and knocked on the door. They turned themselves in because they were cold and tired, Beohm said.
Police caught up with the other five after a pickup truck and trailer were reported stolen. After a brief car case, police found four of them in the vehicle. The last teen ran off and was caught in a field a short time later.
State and local police were called late Sunday to take control of the juvenile center in Morgantown, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia. Beohm said the escape happened after the boys, all between the ages of 15 and 17, wrested the keys away from two staff members.
They got out of the building and went to the recreation yard, where they found a spot to crawl under the fence, Beohm said. All were captured less than five miles from the detention center.
Beohm said the teenagers likely didn’t have the desperation or motivation of someone like Danilo Souza Cavalcante, a murderer with a life sentence who escaped from a Pennsylvania jail and eluded law enforcement for two weeks before his capture on Sept. 13.
“I figured we’d catch these kids because they are not as resilient” as Cavalcante, Beohm said at a news conference.
Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County jail in southeastern Pennsylvania on Aug. 31 by crab-walking up between two walls that were topped with razor wire, and then jumping from the roof.
Abraxas Academy is an enclosed residential treatment program providing “specialized care for delinquent male youth between the ages of 14 to 18 in 9th grade or above,” according to the facility’s website.
The escaped teenagers were in detention for firearms possession, robbery, auto theft and other offenses, according to Beohm.