HEADLINE: Police catch Porter on tip; Escapee fled court in Ellicott City, is captured in W.Va.; Arrest made at motel; $500 reward elicits information needed to find fugitive
BYLINE: Julie Bykowicz
SOURCE: SUN STAFF
His hair had been dyed and he was no longer wearing shackles and handcuffs, but Howard County police found escapee J.C. Porter in a West Virginia motel Tuesday night, authorities said yesterday.
Porter ran barefoot from security guards the evening of Aug. 20 while he was at Howard County District Court in Ellicott City to see a bail commissioner.
He fled the building and into a wooded area north of the court building, police said. Authorities used police dogs to search the area until nightfall.
After receiving a tip a few days ago, three Howard detectives traveled to Petersburg, W.Va., where they suspected Porter was staying at a motel.
The tip was from someone whom police had interviewed soon after Porter's escape, but the person did not give police the West Virginia information until they offered a $500 reward, police said. The person received the reward, police said.
When police found Porter, he tried to evade them by attempting to dive through a window of the motel room. He was unsuccessful and was taken into custody shortly after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.
The Grant County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia State Police assisted Howard County detectives in Porter's apprehension. Officers were stationed outside the motel room in anticipation of another escape attempt, Howard police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said.
Police said Porter was being held without bail in a West Virginia jail, where he has been charged as a fugitive.
Higher level of security
"He is now what's considered an escape risk, which carries a significant level of security," Llewellyn said, adding that police were not concerned about him escaping again because of that designation.
Police said Porter likely will return to Howard County next week, where he will be charged with escape.
Police said that because Porter took off with the shackles, prison belt and handcuffs - all property of the Howard County Police Department - he will also be charged with theft.
Police recovered the shackles Friday from one of Porter's friends. The shackles had been tampered with, police said, and Anthony Harry Dakis, 23, of Columbia was charged with hindering an investigation, destruction of property and theft.
"He refused to provide any information about Porter's whereabouts," Llewellyn said.
At the time he fled, Porter was being held on a probation violation that stemmed from a resisting-arrest charge.
He also is wanted in other jurisdictions on traffic violations and drug charges, court documents show.
Reducing escape chances
Llewellyn said police plan to shift commissioner hearings to the Southern District building - where suspects are booked - within the next month or two.
Having both operations in that building will eliminate the need for transportation, thereby reducing the escape risk, she said.
Until then, the department has assigned a police officer to assist Wackenhut Security guards with all prisoner transports.
The security guard present at the time of Porter's escape has been suspended from transporting prisoners in Howard County, police said.