Escapees remain on the loose
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Two escapees from the Pitkin County Jail remained on the loose Monday and were believed to have stolen an SUV.
A bronze- or tan-colored 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee was reported missing at 6:30 a.m. yesterday. Police believe Robert Feliciano, 18, and Devin Sayyae, 20, stole the vehicle Sunday evening after escaping earlier that afternoon.
Feliciano, who is charged with sexual assault, and Sayyae, who was convicted for auto theft, slipped through a gap in the chain-link fence of the jail’s outdoor area when an officer wasn’t watching. Police would not disclose where the vehicle was stolen, but said the Colorado license plate reads 460GPH.
The owner last saw the vehicle at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
The pair’s direction of travel is unknown, although Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ellen Anderson said police have a couple of ideas about where the inmates may be headed and have contacted police in those areas to be on the lookout.
Descriptions of the men and the vehicle have been distributed nationally, Anderson said.
“Obviously, if they do have a car, their ability to travel has been greatly increased,” she said. “The more eyes and ears we have out there, maybe someone will spot them or see their license plate and call 911.”
Police said the public can check out http://www.aspenpitkin.com for updated information and can also see recent photos of the suspects.
Few other details were released Monday, though Anderson said police are looking into some “believable” descriptions from witnesses in Aspen who called police after seeing articles in local papers. She said police are fairly certain the inmates didn’t escape with any money.
According to jail administrator Don Bird, the suspects escaped when an officer was not paying attention as inmates came inside from the area. Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis said his department will perform an overall assessment of security at the jail. He said he anticipates some “minor changes.”
“Don does a fine job, and our jail staff is the best jail staff on the planet – there’s no doubt in my mind,” Braudis said. “There’s not a jail I’ve ever heard of that has not experienced an escape.”
He said inmates have nothing else to do every day other than think about how to escape, if they so desire.
“It’s my guess that they contemplated this route of egress before their time out in the fresh air pen [Sunday],” Braudis said. “With assistance from the outside, wire cutters or other tools, this breach could have been created up to several days before.”
Police are still investigating whether the men had assistance in their escape. Although there is a video camera in the garage to the jail’s basement, Braudis said it was not on during the escape.
Last year the jail looked into the cost of new video surveillance at the jail, and the lowest bid for the project was $400,000, compared to the $200,000 that was budgeted from the county. With that smaller amount, Braudis said the jail is working on “patchwork replacements” for the most important areas of surveillance.
But at the same time, he said he doesn’t want to turn the jail into “a Fort Knox.”
“Because we’ve had one escape in the last 15 years, I don’t want to knee-jerk ourselves into an Alcatraz mentality,” he said. “We can assure that this type of escape will never happen again.”
[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com]