WARREN – The state shut off all visits to Maine State Prison on Tuesday after an apparent escape attempt in which area police were summoned to the site. State troopers were later spotted at their barracks dressed in camouflage gear and carrying assault rifles.
A state police spokesman later confirmed that a woman from Jackson was arrested in Warren in connection with the incident. Susan Watland, 46, was charged with aiding escape and trafficking in prison contraband. She was being held at Knox County Jail Tuesday night. She is expected to appear in Rockland District Court as early as today.
“The arrest is in connection to the security issue at the state prison,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the state police, adding no further details about the incident would be released.
Despite repeated inquiries Tuesday evening, the governor’s office and the state corrections commissioner would not explain what had occurred, saying they wanted to wait until today to issue a news statement.
Commissioner Martin Magnusson refused to take calls regarding the incident.
Jane Tower, a spokeswoman for the commissioner, said the matter was “still under investigation and cannot be discussed.”
Warden Jeffrey Merrill confirmed “all visiting has stopped at Maine State Prison until further notice,” but referred all other questions to the commissioner.
“The prison is not in lockdown,” said Crystal Canney, spokeswoman for Gov. John Baldacci. “To the best of my knowledge, no one was hurt.” But she would not discuss the incident further or how many people were involved.
“We’re letting the DA do his work,” she said.
At around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at Maine State Police Troop D barracks in Thomaston, numerous troopers were situated behind the building, where a red 1994 four-door Chevrolet Cavalier registered to Watland was being taken off an Oyster River tow truck and put into a garage below the barracks.
A couple of troopers were wearing camouflage gear and toting assault rifles.
A mass of beer cans and Twisted Tea bottles were visible, piled outside the garage.
Lt. Gerard Madden, troop commander, would only say that state police had assisted another agency.
Thomaston Police Chief Kevin Haj confirmed that his department was summoned to the Maine State Prison.