Suspect escaped Dewey jail May 27

Man broke through bathroom wall
June 11, 2018

A suspect escaped the Dewey Beach Police Department May 27 by breaking through the department’s holding cell bathroom wall, police say.

The man was taken into custody early May 27 for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct after being ejected from a bar, Dewey Beach Police Sgt. Cliff Dempsey said. The suspect was not part of the brawl that happened later that morning, Dempsey added.

The man asked to use the bathroom, which does not have a security camera. A few minutes after the suspect entered the bathroom, the police dispatcher noticed debris on the floor and immediately radioed officers, Dempsey said.

Dempsey said the man broke a hole in the wall to exit the bathroom. From there, he ran out the back door and was apprehended by police about 50 yards from the station. 

Jeffery C. Smith of Dewey Citizens for Accountability issued a news release June 8 that stated a suspect had escaped the police department and criticized the town and police for not publicly disclosing the incident.

Dewey Beach Mayor T.J. Redefer said because the situation was quickly controlled, a news release was not issued. 

“He was quickly recaptured and there was never any threat to the public, so we didn’t issue a news release at the time,” Redefer said. “Since then, I have met with Chief Sam Mackert and Sgt. Dempsey to establish policies and procedures for issuing press releases in the future.”

Redefer said the holding room is 20 years old and has been reinforced in places with steel beams over time. Dempsey commended the town maintenance department for repairing the hole within three hours to secure the room. 

Two months ago, Dewey Police requested steel reinforcements be placed within the floor, walls and ceiling of the cell; those security improvements have been scheduled.

Dewey Beach Police would not release the suspect’s name because the arrest occurred more than 72 hours ago. Dempsey said the man’s name is now considered criminal history and they are not permitted to release it. After his escape, he was charged with felony criminal mischief, felony resisting arrest, second-degree felony escape, disorderly conduct and offensive touching.

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