All 9 teens who escaped from a Pennsylvania juvenile detention center have been captured, state police say
By Celina Tebor and Lauren Mascarenhas
(CNN) — All nine teenagers who escaped from a juvenile detention center in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, Sunday evening were captured Monday morning, police said, after a multiagency search that prompted school closures and warnings to the surrounding community.
The teens, ages 15 to 17, broke out of the Abraxas Academy juvenile detention center by overpowering two prison employees and taking their keys, said David Beohm, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police troop in Reading.
Four of the escapees were captured after knocking on a homeowner’s door early Monday, Beohm said.
“They were done, they were tired, they were cold,” Beohm said during a news conference. “They basically gave up.”
The other five teens stole a vehicle and four were captured after a pursuit with police a short time later, Beohm said. The remaining teen took off running into a field and was captured shortly after, he added.
The escapees had earlier attempted to break into a car around midnight to 1 a.m., Beohm said in an early Monday update. “I don’t know what alerted the homeowners, but they broke the window of the car, lights came on, and then they took off,” he said.
All nine of the teens were captured within about four miles of the detention center and none actively resisted arrest, Beohm said. They will all be charged with escape, riot and aggravated and simple assault, and some will also be charged with theft by unlawful taking, according to a news release from the Berks County District Attorney.
About 60 people, including state and local police, worked overnight to find the escapees. Police also employed K-9s and drones, Beohm said.
The juvenile facility is about 15 miles west of South Coventry Township, where escaped murder convict Danilo Cavalcante was captured on Wednesday after nearly two weeks on the run.
“We’re asking the people in this area again, kind of like we did two weeks ago, lock everything up, take your keys out of your car, be vigilant,” Beohm said earlier Monday, before the teens were captured.
The nearby Twin Valley School District closed Monday “out of an abundance of caution.”
“I figured we’d catch these kids because they’re probably not as resilient as” Cavalcante, who knew he was going to prison for the rest of his life, Beohm said.
He said at least two of the teens looked “weary and dirty” when they were returned to custody. He noted the woods where they had escaped to are a far cry from the city of Harrisburg, where at least seven of the teens are from.
The escape that prompted the overnight search for the teens was a coordinated effort, Beohm said.
“They were able to get the keys and then they were able to get out the side door, or one of the doors,” he said. The teens likely got through the fence of the facility by going under it, he added.
“They were working in cahoots with each other to accomplish this goal,” Beohm said.
State police and local police responded to the scene and “took control of the premises from the inmates who had been involved in a riot at Abraxas Academy,” the district attorney said in a statement.
“I would call it more of a disturbance than a riot. It wasn’t anything like what we had here a couple of months ago,” Beohm said, referring to an incident at the facility in July.
“It was a very serious incident, which I think the fact that 19 police departments responded to Abraxas Academy speaks for itself,” Berks County District Attorney John Adams told WFMZ in at the time.
“We’re concerned. We’re concerned that this institution which houses our most serious juvenile offenders who’ve been accused of a crime or convicted of a crime – they have to be able to maintain control,” he added.
Abraxas Academy is a “secure residential treatment program” that provides “specialized care for delinquent male youth between the ages of 14 to 18 in 9th grade or above,” according to the facility’s website.
“Treatment at the Academy is for youth who demonstrate a consistent display of delinquent patterns through multiple placements, serious charges, and problematic behaviors. Youth are admitted to the Academy for either habitual offending behaviors or for a history of sexual offending behavior,” the website reads.
CNN has reached out to Abraxas Academy and the Berks County District Attorney’s Office for comment.
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