This is an outrage. Budget cuts for the state of Iowa should be redirected elsewhere, not to maximum security prison staff.
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Search in Iowa for Two Escaped Killers
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
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IOWA CITY, Iowa ó The search continued Tuesday for two convicted murderers who escaped from the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison by scaling an unguarded section of the historic prison's limestone walls, state officials said.
Law enforcement officials in neighboring Midwestern states have been notified to be on the look out for Martin Shane Moon, 34, and Robert Joseph Legendre, 27. The two men were last seen early Monday night, prison officials said.
Legendre and Moon were serving life sentences for murder. Fort Madison Police Chief Randy Van Wye said the men should be considered armed and dangerous.
State Sen.Gene Fraise, D-Fort Madison, said he was told by prison officials that the inmates scaled a prison wall near an unmanned guard tower.
"The only thing I know for sure is they went over the wall in the southwest corner with a rope and a grappling hook they fashioned out of metal from somewhere," Fraise said.
He said the inmates somehow got past what he called a hot-wire that is supposed to activate an alarm when touched, and got over razor wire at the top of the wall.
"No one knows whether they split up or are together," Fraise said.
Fred Scaletta, a corrections department spokesman, said the inmates used upholstery webbing, a material used in the furniture production at a Prison Industries facility inside the prison, to scale the wall. The guard tower in that section of the prison had been unmanned since 3 p.m., a policy that has been in place for some time.
Fraise blamed state budget cuts for the unmanned tower. He said he argued against the cuts.
"I don't want to say I told you so, but those towers were put there for security, and when you don't man those towers, that puts a hole in your security," Fraise said.
"Budget cuts are part of it," Scaletta told The Associated Press. "There is more to it than that."
Authorities believe the escaped prisoners may be in a stolen car, a 1995 gold Pontiac Bonneville with Iowa plates 776-NOW. The vehicle was reported stolen at about 6:30 p.m. from a residence in Fort Madison about 1 1/2 miles west of the prison, one block from U.S. Highway 61 and close to a bridge that crosses the Mississippi River to Illinois.
"We don't know that with 100 percent certainty that they stole the vehicle, But the fact this car was stolen very close to the time this escape made us want to include that in the information we're passing on," said Jim Saunders, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
Prison spokesman Ron Welder said the prison was locked down following the escape.
The inmates were working inside penitentiary walls for Prison Industries when the escape occurred, Welder said.
Legendre was convicted of kidnapping and murder in the state of Nevada and was transferred to Iowa in December 2004.
Moon was convicted in Clarke County and sent to prison in 2000 for the 1990 shooting of his roommate, Kevin Dickson.
Moon is white male, 6 feet tall, 185 pounds with green eyes and brown hair. Legendre is white, 5-feet 11-inches tall, 178 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.
The Iowa State Penitentiary opened in 1839 and is the oldest prison in the United States west of the Mississippi River. Its maximum security section has a capacity of 550 inmates, and including minimum security and other sections the prison has an overall capacity of 1,166, Welder said.
The escape from the maximum security section is the first successful breakout since five inmates fled by hiding in a garbage truck in March 1979, Welder said. The inmates were later captured at the county landfill.