Escapee Keeps Police Busy on Labor Day

WHEELING – Local authorities spent Labor Day on a five-hour manhunt after a Ohio County Corrections Center inmate walked away for a work crew at Oglebay Park.

Christopher Michael Walls, 29, of Clarksburg, W.Va., was apprehended alone and without incident along GC&P Road at about 5:30 p.m. Officers from the corrections center, the Ohio County Sheriff’s Department and the Wheeling Police Department participated in the search.

Walls, who was serving time for a parole violation, was among five prisoners working to tear down the Fort Henry Days Festival site at Oglebay Park on Monday afternoon. He allegedly escaped the site, leaving behind his orange prisoner’s vest hanging in a tree.

Wheeling Police Deputy Chief Martin Kimball said Walls’ criminal history includes several counts of burglary and drug charges. Kimball said although he was not considered dangerous, he was desperate to elude capture.

He said Walls made his way from Oglebay to the nearby Aaron Woods neighborhood and then to Cloverfields where he attempted to steal a car. Kimball said a resident of Cloverfields spotted Walls inside a vehicle. When spotted, Walls took off on foot. A retired State Police trooper in the neighborhood also was able to give a description of Walls as he disappeared into the woods.

A West Virginia State Police search helicopter was called in to aid in the search. Search dogs also were brought to the area along GC&P Road near Shawnee Hills, Whitmar Hills II and Washington Farms.

Walls reportedly was spotted several times in the area of Washington Farms but continued to elude officers.

Police cruisers inundated the area along GC&P Road, setting up road blocks and checking vehicles leaving the area.

For a time officers focused their search in the Merrymount Road area located off GC&P Road.

Residents in the search area were advised to lock their doors and vehicles.

Many residents along GC&P Road sat on their porches or watched from their front yards as cruisers drove up and down the road in search of Walls.

Shortly after 5 p.m., Walls was spotted in the Whitmar Hills area and police attempted to catch up with him in the woods. He then was seen on Gracie Drive.

At 5:25 p.m. officers caught up with Walls and took him into custody.

His escape, hunt and capture all occurred within five hours on Monday afternoon.