CALAIS — State, county and local law enforcement agents, as well as a ground-sniffing K-9, skittered around the county late Tuesday afternoon looking for a Calais man who walked away from the District Court.
Earlier Tuesday, corrections officers from the Washington County Jail loaded six prisoners into the van for a trip to Calais where they were to appear in 4th District Court. Travis Mullens, 18, who had been arrested by the Baileyville Police Department on Sunday, was in court for violating bail conditions.
Around 3:30 p.m. when the prisoners were loaded back into the van for the return trip to Machias, and after the van had left the courthouse parking lot, corrections officers discovered that they had only five prisoners. “He just walked away from the custody of corrections officers,” said Jail Administrator Robert Gross late Tuesday night. Gross said he had not yet spoken with his corrections officers and so details of the escape were sketchy.
While temperatures dipped into the teens Tuesday, and an unrelenting freezing rain coated the area with ice, Mullens, dressed only in a sweatshirt and jeans and still wearing restraints, was able to convince a motorist to give him a ride to Baileyville. Gross said Mullens had related that the “good Samaritan” also bought him a pack of cigarettes at the Irving Big Stop in Baileyville.
Baileyville Police Officer Robert Lane found Mullens in a laundromat on Route 1, and by late Tuesday afternoon the escapee was back in the Washington County jail.
Asked why police looked in the laundromat, Gross said, “It was just a hunch. Everyone was searching everywhere.” He said he believed Mullens, who apparently has family in the area, was looking for a telephone. The jail administrator said it would be up to the assistant district attorney to decide whether new charges would be filed.