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Airman's Escape From Stockade Baffles Officials

June 03, 1993|H.G. REZA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN DIEGO — James Douglas Pou remained free Wednesday after escaping from the stockade at March Air Force Base, as red-faced military officials struggled to explain how the once model airman could simply walk away from his jail cell.

Air Force investigators and Paul Nestor, Pou's attorney, said they had no idea where he is hiding or even if he is still in Southern California. Nestor said he had not heard from Pou since his escape.

Monica Marie Joyce, who married Pou after he faked his death in May, 1987, and had two sons with him, said she had not been contacted by him either. Joyce and Pou's sister, Nanette Wehg, had reported him to Air Force authorities last year.

Joyce testified at Pou's 1992 court-martial that she was aware that he had left another wife and two young sons in New Mexico when he deserted in 1987 and changed his name to Christopher Keith Riggs. At the time of his escape, Pou was serving an 18-month sentence at the March Air Force Base stockade after his conviction for bigamy and desertion.

Pou, 33, a former member of an elite search and rescue unit, escaped some time between 11 p.m. Monday and 4:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Master Sgt. Lionel Harvey, base spokesman, said prisoners are required to sleep in a locked wire cage that is partitioned. Pou was sharing a partitioned area with three other prisoners on the night of his escape, Harvey said.

In order to leave the cage, Pou had to walk through a barred door and then leave the room through another locked door. Harvey said there were two security officers on duty the night Pou escaped. He said that Pou is believed to be the first prisoner to escape from the facility.

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