Nine teenage inmates recaptured after ‘poorly planned’ escape from juvenile detention centre

Inmates escaped from Abraxas Academy, around 15 miles west from where murderer Danilo Cavalcante was apprehended last week

Bevan Hurley
Monday 18 September 2023 19:21 BST
All 9 juveniles in custody after detention center escape in Berks County, police say

Nine teenage inmates have been recaptured hours after they escaped from a juvenile detention facility in Pennsylvania, authorities say.

The teenagers, aged from 15 to 17, escaped from the Abraxas Academy in Morgantown after overpowering two female guards and stealing their keys during a “disturbance” on Sunday night, according to Pennsylvania State Police.

The escape prompted school closures and safety warnings as law enforcement launched a large multi-agency manhunt in Berks County, about 65 miles northeast of Philadelphia.

Four of the escapees were arrested when they knocked on the door of a home in Oak Grove Rd, Morgantown, four miles from the detention facility, at about 5.45am.

The teens turned themselves in because they were wet and cold and none actively resisted arrest, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Beohm said during a press conference.

The remaining five teenagers were recaptured at around 6.30am after police received reports they had stolen a vehicle.

Four were taken into custody after a brief police pursuit, and a fifth who tried to flee on foot was caught in a field soon afterwards.

Pennsylvania State Police spokesman David Beohm addresses the media after the capture of nine escapees from the Abraxas Academy
Pennsylvania State Police spokesman David Beohm addresses the media after the capture of nine escapees from the Abraxas Academy (PA)

All of them will be charged with escaping custody and may face further charges for offences committed while on the run, Mr Boehm said.

The “poorly planned” escape began when the inmates overpowered two security guards and wrested keys away from them.

The teens were able to get into a recreation yard before crawling under a fence, police said.

The nearby Twin Valley School District announced it was closing schools “out of an abundance of caution” before the suspects were recaptured.

Around 60 officers were involved in the search, using K9 units and drones to locate the offenders.

State and local police were also called in to help regain control of Abraxas Academy.

Abraxas Academy is a secure residential treatment programme that provides care for “delinquent male youth between the ages of 14 to 18”, according to its website.

The Abraxas Academy in Morgantown was the scene of a full-scale riot in July
The Abraxas Academy in Morgantown was the scene of a full-scale riot in July (PA)

It’s around 15 miles west of South Coventry Township, where convicted murderer Danilo Cavalvante was apprehended last week after a 14-day manhunt.

“I figured we’d catch these kids because they are not as resilient” as Cavalacante, Mr Beohm said during the press conference.

The woods around the facility were a far cry from Harrisburg, where most of the teens come from, Mr Beohm added.

He said the escape was more like a “disturbance than a riot”.

In July, dozens of teenagers were involved in a riot at the Abraxas Academy that took 40 officers around five hours to bring under control.

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