Escapees May Act On Impulse

WHEELING – Ohio County Corrections Center Warden William Yurcina said minimum security inmates who escape from community work details usually do so because they are having a bad day or simply cannot resist an opportunistic situation.

“They may have gotten a bad telephone call from home or they make a spur of the moment decision to walk away,” he said.

Yurcina’s comments came in response to a short-lived escape Monday by Christopher M. Walls, 29, of Clarksburg. Walls walked away from a crew cleaning up after of the weekend’s Fort Henry Days Festival at Oglebay Park.

Walls was part of a six-man community service crew being watched by one guard as they cleaned the Camp Russell area.

“They were cleaning close to the wood line and he was able to disappear before the officer realized it,” he said. “It is normal for an officer to remain in a central area to keep an eye on all the inmates, but when he is looking in one direction, an inmate in the opposite direction could take advantage of a chance to slip away.”

He said Walls left his orange prisoner’s vest hanging on a tree as he walked away.

“He was wearing khaki pants and a white T-shirt with DOC stamped on them,” he said.

Yurcina said most inmates at the Ohio County Corrections Center are minimum risk and a low security threat.

“The are mostly parole violators,” he said.

He said his facility houses 66 men, and many of them work under correction officer supervision around the community doing trash pickup, street cleaning and a variety of other tasks.

“All of our crews are supervised by a correction officer,” Yurcina said. “This is the first time we have experienced a walk-off.”

A criminal complaint states that State Police troopers, Wheeling police and sheriff’s deputies combed the Oglebay area for more than five hours before catching Wall at 5:24 p.m. Monday after he escaped their clutches at least three times.

According to the report, police responded to a 911 call at noon concerning a man trying to steal items from a vehicle in Cloverfield Estates. A description of the man was consistent with that of Walls, who walked away from work detail one-half mile away in the Camp Russell area of the park.

The report shows three instances of Walls refusing to give up, including:

  • At 2:26 p.m., State Police saw Walls on a hillside on the west side of GC&P Road. He allegedly fled when officers told he he was under arrest and ordered him to stop.
  • At 5:06 p.m., State Police located Walls near a Witmar Hills II residence. Walls again ran when ordered to stop. A deputy caught Walls and attempted to secure him, but Walls got away by allegedly fighting and shoving the deputy.
  • At 5:15 p.m., a Wheeling officer and a sheriff’s deputy spotted Walls near a residence on Pearson Lane. Again he refused to surrender and fled from both officers through fields and a wooded area, and into the path of additional authorities.
  • At 5:24 p.m., authorities struggled with Walls before taking him into custody.

Yurcina said Walls has been at the facility for about three months and would have been seeing a parole board soon.