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  • r7ualj r7ualj Oct 15, 1999 9:52 AM Flag

    badly broken

    Search continues for convicted child-killer Kyle

    Associated Press Newswires

    Copyright 1999. The Associated Press. All Rights

    SANTA ROSA, N.M. (AP) - An intense
    manhunt was under way for
    convicted child-killer Kyle
    Bell, who escaped from an inmate-transport
    hours before guards even noticed he was

    The president of TransCor America Inc., the
    largest privately run prison
    transport company in the
    nation, acknowledged a preliminary
    indicated "several procedural violations have occurred

    involving security policies" on Thursday.

    "We are
    embarrassed by this incident, and are reviewing all
    policies and procedures," John Zierdt Jr. said in
    a statement. TransCor
    transports 77,000 inmates
    a year.

    Bell, 32, convicted in the murder
    of 11-year-old Jeanna North of
    Fargo, N.D., fled
    at 4 a.m. Wednesday from a bus that stopped for
    at a Santa Rosa station adjacent to busy
    Interstate 40. He was not
    missed until the bus crossed
    into Arizona hours later.

    At a news conference
    Thursday in Bismarck, N.D., Gov. Ed Schafer
    TransCor has much to answer for. The Tennessee company
    not provided adequate explanations for Bell's
    disappearance and
    guards' slowness in discovering it,
    Schafer said.

    TransCor is a subsidiary of the
    Corrections Corporation of America,
    which owns or
    operates prisons in 26 states.

    The four guards on
    the bus have been fired, according to KSTP-TV in

    St. Paul.

    In December 1997, three prisoners
    escaped from a TransCor van at a
    Burger King
    restaurant in Owatonna, Minn. Two escapees were
    apprehended, but the third, Homer Land, held an Owatonna

    couple hostage for 15 hours.

    A bloodhound
    brought to Santa Rosa Thursday to track Bell picked
    his scent near the truck stop but lost it at the
    interstate, said state police
    Lt. Richard

    Guards aboard the modified Greyhound bus did not
    realize Bell was
    missing until nine hours after the
    Santa Rosa stop, when they did a
    headcount after
    the bus arrived in St. Johns, Ariz., Newman

    Authorities believe Bell picked the locks on his
    handcuffs and leg
    shackles early Wednesday morning and
    escaped through a ventilation
    hatch in the bus

    Santa Rosa's three schools were searched and a
    city officer was
    assigned Thursday to patrol the
    schools, said Dan Flores, the town's

    "We also, for a time, considered not having
    school today, but we
    thought that the safest place
    for students would be at school rather than

    home," Flores said.

    A federal charge was filed
    against Bell in Fargo Thursday to give the
    Bureau of Investigation increased authority to pursue
    and arrest
    the fugitive, said U.S. Attorney John

    Bell, who was being taken to Oregon City, Ore.,
    from North Dakota,
    was sentenced in September to
    life in prison. Authorities said he
    molested the
    child and killed her when she threatened to tell her

    Schafer said he called Jeanna North's parents to
    inform them.

    "They were emotional, upset,
    concerned, disappointed and lost faith in
    the system,
    and so have I," Schafer said.

    John North,
    Jeanna North's father, said he was "dumbfounded" by
    news. "We thought this was finally over, and now
    this," North said
    Thursday. "It opens up a lot of
    old wounds for us."

    In a 1996 statement
    prosecutors were not allowed to use at trial, Bell
    investigators he tied the girl's body to a cinderblock and
    her from a bridge into the Sheyenne River
    northwest of Fargo.

    At the time he was charged in
    her disappearance, Bell was serving a
    prison term for molesting two young girls.

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