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Jail inmate escape sheds light on security concerns



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INMATE DAVID HOBSON, who escaped from the Carroll County House of Corrections on Thursday, Dec. 1, was arrested in Rochester on Dec. 6. (Courtesy photo, U.S. Marshal's Service)
December 08, 2011
OSSIPEE — After being on the run for five days, breaking news at press time indicated that 34-year-old David Hobson, who scaled the razor wire-topped fence Dec. 1 and escaped from Carroll County House of Corrections was arrested in Rochester around 6:15 p.m. on Dec. 6 near the Market Basket store on Route 125.

According to the arrest report, during a search of Hobson after his arrest, he was found to be in possession of approximately $3,000 in cash and narcotics. Hobson will be charged by the Rochester Police Department for Possession of Narcotics at a future date.

Hobson managed to elude police from multiple agencies as well as a state police helicopter and several search dogs for more than 12 hours before allegedly stealing a vehicle in Wakefield. They did find nearly immediately two orange, jail-issued t-shirts that covered Hobson's grey sweat suit, and police dogs tracked his scent from the jail out to Route 28. Some residents in the area were notified to be on the lookout for him while others, an hour into the incident, had no idea what was going on. The county administration building and nursing home were placed into a lockdown status as well as the courthouse on Route 171. Police set up a roadblock at the intersection of Route 28 and Route 16 to question and alert passersby of the situation. School bus drivers were altered to the situation as the escape occurred as school was letting out for the day.

It is suspected that Hobson made his way to Wontons Restaurant on Route 16 in Wakefield and stole a Nissan Highlander SUV from that parking lot around 3 a.m. Railroad tracks lead through the woods in Ossipee, along Brown's Ridge Road, cross under Route 16 in the area of Crew Road, just south of the restaurant.

When police found the SUV, it contained bloody clothing which indicated to police Hobson was badly injured in his escape over the fence.

Hobson's father, 55-year-old Glenn Hobson, was arrested Friday and charged with hindering apprehension for leaving first aid supplies, clothing, and medication for his son outside his Mountain Road home in Alfred, Maine. He was released on $500 bail.

Police executed search warrants on two properties in Sanford, Maine, 148 and 154 New Dam Road where Hobson's family members live. In the backyard of one of the homes they found clothing, first aid supplies, and paperwork from a store indicating that Hobson was in the area and had made purchases at a local store there. Police would not release the identity of the relatives, only to say that one was an aunt. These family members are cooperating with police and as of press time had not been charged in relation to Hobson's escape. According to police, Hobson knows the Sanford/Alfred area intimately, having grown up there and has no ties to any other place.

Bulletins were sent out to the media alerting the public to be on the lookout for a Honda Civic stolen from Sanford and a pickup truck missing from New Dam Road. They later sent word that the Civic was recovered in Old Orchard Beach. The pickup truck turned out not to have been stolen but rather borrowed by a family member of its owner. Both of these vehicles were ruled out and have no connection to the Hobson disappearance.

Hobson was being held on burglary charges. He was scheduled to be in court Dec. 7 for his arraignment on the latest indictment for a burglary in Wakefield.

In November, Carroll County Grand Jury indicted Hobson and two alleged accomplices, 26-year-old James Curit of Sanford and 30-year-old Christy Wanager, charging them with the April 27 burglary of a Bonneyman Road home in the Province Lake area of Wakefield.

In July, the three were indicted for the May 2 burglary of a home in Sandwich and the May 6 burglary of a home in Effingham. According to Effingham Police Chief Joe Collins, the trio is suspected of breaking into a home on Route 153 during the day when the homeowner left to run some errands.

Curit's address listed on the indictments is 154 New Dam Road in Sanford, one of the houses that police searched Monday.

According to police, Hobson has a criminal history. His alleged accomplice in the burglaries, Curit, also has an extensive criminal background including assault, theft of drugs, burglary, and had been indicted on murder charges in connection a drug transaction related stabbing death of a 21-year-old in Sanford in 2007. Those charges against Curit were reduced and he pled guilty to theft while armed and to theft of cocaine.

On the New Hampshire burglary charges, Curit was released on personal recognizance (no money) bail and was scheduled to appear, along with Wanager and Hobson for arraignment Dec. 7 at Third Circuit Court in Ossipee.

In a press conference on Monday, Dec. 5, U.S. Marshal Noel Marsh said "Mr. Hobson should, if he could and would, turn himself into authorities, where he will be safe, that this three-day manhunt can come to an end," said Marsh. "The expense and the stress that has gone into this, specifically to Hobson's family, can also come to an end."

Despite earlier repeated announcements that Hobson had obtained a gun and should be considered "armed, dangerous, and desperate," at Monday's press conference Marsh said, "We do not know where Mr. Hobson is….The public should be alert but not alarmed. This guy is not a not on a shooting rampage or a home invasion rampage. Any other concerns that might cause anxiety to the public really should be kept in check. This individual knows this area and has been in touch with his family. We think it is just a matter of time."

Police had said earlier that Hobson was headed to Maine, specifically heading there to do harm to two people. Those people were informed and moved to a safe location.

Jail concerns

According to Carroll County House of Corrections Superintendent Jason Johnson, Hobson was classified as a medium security inmate and had been in the jail since Oct. 4 on a pre-trial status awaiting court on burglary charges. He had been on an increased supervision "suicide watch," but had been cleared from that status earlier in the week.

Hobson's escape happened on Thursday, Dec. 1, during the daily outdoor recreation time afforded to medium security inmates. There were six inmates in the recreation yard and one guard at the time of the escape. The 12-foot chain link fence that surrounds the recreation yard is topped with razor wire, something that no inmate has attempted to scale since the jail opened in 2003. At the time of his escape, Hobson was wearing a grey sweatsuit that he had purchased through the jail and a pair of grey sneakers that he had obtained from another inmate.

Johnson said, on initial investigation, it appears the guard may have been doing a security check of the adjacent dayroom area when Hobson made his escape. When that guard returned to the fenced area and saw Hobson on the other side, he alerted the other jail staff who began the pursuit. A Dec. 7 critique of the entire incident with the jail staff was planned at press time. At that meeting, Johnson hopes to discover all of the details of the chain of events leading up to Hobson's escape as well as what worked well and what could have been done differently in reaction to the escape. Johnson said a report of the findings will be compiled.

Johnson said, at this time, he does not believe there is enough credible evidence to charge any of the other inmates with assisting Hobson with his escape. The jail was immediately placed into a lockdown status and remained that way until Friday afternoon, Dec. 2. Johnson said all was quiet in the jail, with the inmates understanding of the emergency.

The county commissioners have put their final budget together for 2011 to recommend for approval by the county delegation. Johnson had asked for additional security equipment and eight new staff for next year. The commissioners are recommending two.

Last year and again this budget cycle, Johnson has been basing his budget request on a 2010 report by John Alese of National Institute of Corrections and has repeatedly asked the jail subcommittee, commissioners and delegation to strongly consider following the report recommendations rather than only the bottom line. One recommendation in the report is to have the recreation yard covered. Johnson said this could be accomplished by closing in the top with chainlink fencing or constructing a pitched roof over the recreation area. Back in 2002, as the jail was being prepared for construction, the recommendation was to construct concrete walls with a fence above and partially covering the recreation area. This was cut from the construction project in an effort to save money on the $8 million project. The jail, according to the reports, should also have a secured perimeter. As it sits now, the public can walk right up to the windows of the jail or to the chain link fence that surrounds the recreation area.

"We have a duty to the citizens of the County that the jail will be run effectively and efficiently. That is what the citizens are owed," said Johnson. He added he hopes the delegation and the commissioners will take a more focused look at the report recommendations and Johnson's proposed budget, in light of this recent event.

"I certainly don't want to waste the taxpayer's money," said Johnson, "but the needs of the facility need to be addressed as well."

Johnson's first presentation to commissioners this budget season asked for a 2012 budget of $3,759,721 which included the eight additional staff. The commissioner's cut that request down to $3,317,546. At their meeting two days prior to Hobson's escape, County Commissioner David Soresen said that Johnson "did his job asking for what (budget) he thought was necessary" but after looking at the financial situation, said Sorensen, the commissioners reduced his budget. Final approval is up to the delegation.

The delegation is scheduled to hold a public hearing Dec. 12 at 9 a.m. to unveil the commissioner's proposed 2012 budget. Meetings are also videotaped for later viewing and can be found at www.governmentoversite.com for those unable to attend the Monday morning county delegation meetings. Copies of the proposed budget can be obtained ahead of the meeting at the county business office, located at the county administration building on Route 171 in Ossipee. The hours are Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hobson's escape is the first time since the new jail was constructed in 2003 that an inmate has escaped from a secured area. Back in 2009, an inmate walked away from a work detail at the county farm and made it to the railroad tracks at Perry's Crossing off Walker Hill Road in Ossipee before being apprehended.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
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