Daley guard helps catch prison escapee

1 of 3 inmates from Ind. prison caught in Mich. near mayor's vacation home
July 14, 2009 4:30:31 AM PDT
Police are asking residents in northwest Indiana to stay inside their homes as two convicts are on the loose.They escaped from the Indiana state prison. A third man -- a convicted killer -- was caught Monday morning near Mayor Richard Daley's summer home in Grand Beach, Michigan while the mayor's family slept inside.

The three men were discovered missing Sunday morning from the maximum-security prison in Michigan City, Indiana. Officials say they escaped through underground tunnels and pipes.

Police are heavily patrolling the area, but have suspended the massive search that was going on for much of the day until Tuesday morning. They consider the two escapees to be very dangerous, and most residents are heeding the warnings.

Downtown New Buffalo is a vacation spot. But Monday night people were on edge.

"There are so many police around here. The state, county, and the locals," New Buffalo resident Dean Carlson said.

"I got searched leaving Grand Beach at 6:00. She got searched at 7:00. She came back at noon, and we had probably 35 police and sheriff's deputies," Grand Beach resident Bob Barnes said.

Next door in Grand Beach, police captured one escapee, Charles Smith this morning. There is a much greater police presence there. Joel Blakemore closed down the Grand Beach golf course and locked the doors.

"Until they are apprehended, the sheriff told me I'm not supposed to let anybody out on the course," Blakemore said.

The local police, FBI, U.S. Marshalls and Indiana police are all involved in the manhunt. They've been searching by foot, by air, and by boat.

Every vehicle going in and out of Grand Beach was being searched Monday, as police continued a door-to-door search of homes in the exclusive lakefront community. They are trying to find escaped convict Mark Booher, who got away this morning after his companion, Charles Smith, was arrested about a quarter mile away from the vacation home of the mayor. The home is about eight miles from the prison.

Police are still looking for the two other inmates, including escaped convict Mark Booher, who got away after Smith was arrested a quarter of a mile away from Daley's vacation home.

"Several homes are vacant. We're not sure which ones, that's why we're going to door-door. As you go through the area there's a lot of wooded areas, so it does make it much more difficult," Undersheriff for Berrien County Chuck Heit said.

The search is being conducted on a grid pattern. Jennifer Connelly had her home searched this afternoon.

"[Police] came in with guns and things, but couldn't have been sweeter or nicer. I feel pretty safe because they're all over the place. I'm staying at my friend's house tonight," Connelly said..

"They had three choppers in the air, canine units and I believe a few boats out on the water searching it, combing it continually. It was pretty exciting and intense seeing everything come and go," witness Don Shifferl said.

The Indiana state prison is less than 10 miles from this community and officials believe three inmates managed to get out through a series of tunnels they alt one time helped to repair as part of their work.

"There are metal tops welded onto manhole covers, so they can't be removed, and these are some of the measures they were able to defeat," John Schraeder, of the department of corrections, said.

Authorities were first alerted that two of the three were in the Grand Beach area when they were spotted walking along U.S. 12 very early Monday morning. Later, around 5:30, they were again seen--this time a block from the mayor's home, having an argument with one of the neighbors. A Chicago police officer that is a security guard for Mayor Daley held one of the men, Charles Smith, at gunpoint until authorities arrived.

"I immediately had a feeling something was wrong. I already had my guard up. It was 5:00 in the morning, and these guys looked like they had been laying in wait somewhere," Chicago Police Officer Michael Smith said in a statement.

As for the mayor, he and his family were asleep in the home while all of this was going on and were never in any danger.

"He saw two individuals walking at 5:30 in the morning, adjacent to the driveway, which was unusual," Daley said.

Mark Booher is believed to have been the one with Charles Smith when he was arrested. Lance Battreal, a convicted rapist, is the third escapee. Police say there is a strong likelihood that one or both of them is still in this general area.

Booher was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, sweat pants and a pair of blue shorts over the sweat pants. The third convict, convicted rapist Lance Battreal, has not been sighted in the area but police cannot rule out he might be there.


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