Teen escapes briefly from sheriff’s custody

June 27, 2013
Police and sheriff’s deputes converged Thursday on a parking lot on West Maiden Street in Washington, where a 15-year-old prisoner was apprehended after escaping from a sheriff’s vehicle. - Barbara Miller / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A 15-year-old who was about to be taken to the Jefferson County (Ohio) Juvenile Detention Facility escaped from the custody of Washington County sheriff’s deputies around noon Thursday but he was quickly apprehended just two blocks from the courthouse.

The youth was found to be in violation of the terms of his juvenile probation when, instead of getting into the sheriff’s car, he bolted from outside the old Washington County jail, now known as the Family Court Center on West Cherry Avenue in Washington. He ran down Brownson Avenue to West Wheeling Street, where he fell as he rounded a corner across from the City Mission, witnesses said.

Tom Preston, a mission resident who was in the smoker’s pavilion, and Bill Naumoff, marketing director for the mission, said they saw a law enforcement officer use a Taser or attempt to use a Taser on the youth, who got up and continued to run down Brownson Avenue between the city police station and the parking lot of Hite Electrical Lighting and Supply, 85 W. Maiden St., where he was again taken into custody for the trip to Steubenville.

Naumoff said he saw the youth, who was wearing street clothes, in handcuffs that were attached at the waist.

Deputy Pat Puskarich said he was not sure if the teenager was boxed in with vehicles after police were alerted to the escape or if he was apprehended by an officer on foot.

“It was a last-minute thing,” said Deputy Jerry Jericho, who said the deputy from whom the youth escaped happened to be in court on another case.

Juveniles are not to be shackled at the ankles unless they are a known flight risk, which, until Thursday, the youth was not. “The Legislature handcuffed us,” Jericho said.

The youth will be charged with escape, Puskarich said, and, under the law that governs the rights of juveniles, he is to have a detention hearing within 72 hours. Puskarich, who has worked for the county since 1990, said he is aware of three or four other foot chases involving juveniles.

Tom Jess, deputy court administrator in charge of probation services, said the teen was adjudicated delinquent on a charge that “would have been a misdemeanor had he been an adult.” Jess said he thought the adjudication dealt with a drug possession charge, but he was not sure what the controlled substance was.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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