Orchestrated escape shown on video

June 26, 2013
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Left, Rocco John Iacovone. Right, Jason William Roe.
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CARMICHAELS – Two inmates who allegedly freed themselves from Greene County Prison for two hours June 22 laughed throughout their preliminary hearing Wednesday before Greene County Magisterial District Judge Lee Watson.

The first man, Jason William Roe, 33, of 65 Main St., Daisytown was in jail on charges of criminal homicide and aggravated assault. The charges stem from the shooting death of Cordele Edward Patterson, 38, of Grindstone Aug. 14 in Wayne Township.

Roe’s accomplice in the escape, Rocco John Iacovone, 27, of Washington, formerly of Fairmont, W.Va., was being held on charges of fleeing or attempting to elude police, driving under the influence of alcohol and recklessly endangering another person. Iacovone is a suspect in the February armed robberies of a Subway restaurant in Fairmont and a BP gas station in South Strabane Township. He was arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase north on Interstate 79 before his vehicle was forced to a stop by state police near Ruff Creek in Greene County.

Following their apprehension June 22, Roe was returned to Greene County Prison and Iacovone taken to the Washington County jail. They had not spoken since their arrests until being seated at the defense table in Watson’s courtroom, according to authorities.

Iacovone smiled when seated next to Roe and asked how angry the staff at the Waynesburg facility was, singling out Warden Harry Gillispie. As a surveillance video of their escape played, Roe and Iacovone looked at each other and leaned forward smiling as they watched.

Corrections Officer Kelly Rishell was working the day shift on June 22. She was positioned in the tower, overlooking “golf block, the main yard, and part of the H Block yard,” she said.

“I saw them come out into the H Block yard and then they went into the wrong yard. I yelled for them to go to the correct yard,” Rishell said. “They were carrying a cooler. They dropped it and went to the back of the yard and picked up a picnic table.”

In the video, Roe and Iacovone can be seen walking directly to the table, lifting it and moving it to the fence. They flipped it on end with the legs facing toward them, away from the fence and immediately began to scale the underside of the table, side-by-side, using it as a ladder. Reaching the top in unison, first one, and then the other, shimmied beneath a gap in the fence just below the razor wire.

“I fired a shot and ordered them to come back,” Rishell said. The shot was not fired in the direction of the prisoners, according to Rishell. She said neither Roe nor Iacovone slowed down or looked at her when she was demanding they stop.

Once they were outside of the yard Rishell could no longer see them from the tower, she added. She said she radioed for backup and officers came to the yard but both men were gone by then. The area of the fence where they exited leads to the front parking lot of the prison, according to Rishell.

Trooper Jeremy Barni of the criminal investigation unit of the Waynesburg State Police Barracks said they were notified by the prison that an escape had occurred. They were advised that Roe and Iacovone had escaped wearing white T-shirts and blue and white pants.

“All patrol units, and myself, went to the area and set up a perimeter to search for them. We found them in a field near the Emerald Mine, off of Garards Fort Road,” he said, noting they had made it less than a mile from the jail.

Barni said Roe gave a statement when he was in custody but Iacovone did not. According to the criminal complaint, Roe allegedly told officers that he has been planning his escape since they placed him in the jail for the homicide.

Despite an attempt by their shared defense council, Attorney Harry Cancelmi, to have the escape charges reduced to a misdemeanor, Watson upheld them as felonies. He bound the case over to the common pleas court for disposition.

Tara Kinsell started her career in journalism with the National Geographic Insider Magazine and the Gaithersburg Gazette Newspaper in Montgomery County, Md. Tara has written and photographed sports, features and news stories for the Herald Standard, Greene County Messenger and Albert Gallatin Weekly. She holds degrees in journalism and graphic design from Waynesburg College, now Waynesburg University, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, respectively.

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