By MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Two fugitives who allegedly escaped a Virginia juvenile correctional center with the help of two of the facility’s employees nearly a week ago have most recently been spotted in Pennsylvania, officials said.
The Lancaster County District’s Attorney’s Office said Saturday that Rashad E. Williams, 18, and Jabar Ali Taylor, 20, stayed at an area Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel earlier in the week. They also were seen on surveillance footage at a nearby Turkey Hill market, authorities said.
The district attorney’s office warned the public that they are “dangerous fugitives” who should not be confronted.
According to the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, the pair escaped the 284-capacity Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center in Chesterfield County in the early morning hours of July 13. The duo allegedly used a cord to choke a security staff member until he lost consciousness, then allegedly used the employee’s keys to exit the unit. They then escaped through a hole cut in the facility’s perimeter security fence and left in a getaway car, officials said.
Taylor, of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and aggravated malicious assault stemming from the 2015 stabbing deaths of two men. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 2016. In May, a judge denied an attempt by his legal team to reduce his sentence.
Williams, of Washington, D.C., was convicted of malicious wounding and robbery and sentenced to 18 years in 2019.
Both were due to be transferred to an adult Department of Corrections facility when they turned 21, officials said. Taylor turns 21 on Aug. 25.
U.S. Marshals had initially believed the two would travel north, where they “both have significant ties.”
Three people have been arrested so far in connection with the escape, police said, including two Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice employees who worked at Bon Air. Destiny L. Harris, 23, of Chesterfield County, was charged with two counts of aiding with the escape of a juvenile on Tuesday. The next day, Darren Briggs, 42, of Lawrenceville, Virginia, was charged with one felony count of providing a cellphone to a prisoner. Both are no longer employed by the agency, Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice Director Valerie Boykin said.
A relative of Williams’ — Gerald Thornton, 33, of Philadelphia — was charged with two counts of aiding with the escape of a juvenile, according to ABC Richmond affiliate WRIC-TV.
U.S. Marshals are offering a reward of $5,000 for information that leads to the escaped convicts’ capture.
“The danger posed by these fugitives and their escape should not be taken lightly by anyone,” Nick E. Proffitt, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement. “The fugitives went to great lengths to affect the escape, and they pose a significant threat to any law enforcement officer or member of the public who may encounter them.”
This was the first escape at Bon Air in over 20 years, according to Boykin. On Friday, the director said she was launching a “full security analysis” of the “old campus.”
“DJJ had been working for years to replace it with a more modern facility with state-of-the-art security and treatment design components,” she said in a statement. “While those efforts are ongoing, we are committed to determine if security enhancements are needed.”
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