- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A man who escaped from a Rhode Island prison and was on the run for five days appeared Friday before a federal magistrate judge and was ordered held on an escape charge.

James Morales escaped from the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls last Saturday and was captured Thursday about 50 miles north, in Somerville, Massachusetts. Authorities believe he may have tried to rob two banks before he was caught.

The judge approved a detention order in U.S. District Court in Providence based on his flight risk and danger to the community. His public defender, Olin Thompson, did not object. Thompson would not comment after court.

The 35-year-old former Army reservist had been held in Central Falls for about a year on charges he stole 16 guns from a U.S. Army Reserve Center in Worcester.

The prosecutor would not comment outside court when asked where Morales is being held now.

It took hours for correctional officers to notice when Morales escaped New Year’s Eve. Three correctional officers and a supervisor at the privately run prison that houses about 800 inmates have been put on paid leave.

U.S. Marshal Jamie Hainsworth, asked Friday whether his office was considering moving other prisoners out of Wyatt, said they were still investigating and assessing what happened.

An affidavit unsealed Friday says all of the inmates were accounted for during a 10:30 p.m. check on Saturday, even though video surveillance showed Morales actually escaped at about 6:45 p.m. that day.

Morales was last seen at about 4:30 p.m. going outside to the recreation area alone, according to the affidavit.

Video surveillance shows him two hours later standing on a basketball hoop, climbing onto the roof through a hole created in the recreation area roof fence, then going down the side of the building and running toward the train tracks, the affidavit said.

Authorities say Morales followed the tracks to Interstate 95, where his prison clothing was found. An officer discovered he was missing from his cell shortly after the 10:30 p.m. check and notified his superiors at about 11 p.m., the affidavit said.

Hainsworth previously said the prison notified law enforcement authorities at 11:43 p.m.


Associated Press writer Jennifer McDermott contributed to this report.

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