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Hunt Is on for Escaped Murder Suspect

Authorities scour northeast Pennsylvania after Hugo Selenski busts out of an 'escape-proof' seventh-floor cell.

October 12, 2003|From Associated Press

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Authorities launched a massive manhunt Saturday for a murder suspect who officials say escaped from prison by climbing 60 feet down a rope made of bedsheets.

At least 50 officers using dogs pursued the suspect, Hugo Selenski, who had been jailed since June when the remains of five people were found in his yard.

Selenski escaped Friday evening from the seventh floor of the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with another inmate, who was captured when he fell, suffering broken bones and internal injuries.

The prison in downtown Wilkes-Barre, 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia, sits on the banks of the Susquehanna River, which officials say Selenski may have used to flee.

The search was concentrated in northeast Pennsylvania, but State Police Trooper Tom Kelly acknowledged that Selenski could have traveled hundreds of miles by now.

"What we're looking for right now is friends, family, places he may have frequented," he said.

Warden Gene Fischi said the two inmates broke a 12-by-18-inch cell window, threw a mattress to the ground and shimmied down the makeshift rope to a second-story roof.

After the other inmate fell, Selenski used the mattress to scale a 10-foot razor-wire fence, Fischi said.

"They were supposed to be escape-proof," Fischi said of the cells.

Selenski's lawyer, Demetrius Fannick, made a public plea for his client to surrender. He has called the murder charges against his client "totally unbelievable."

Selenski, 30, was charged Monday with murdering two men whose burned bones were among the five bodies found behind his home in Kingston Township near Wilkes-Barre.

Prosecutors said the two men were killed in May as part of a plot to make money by kidnapping and robbing drug dealers. No charges have been filed in the deaths of the other three victims.

Selenski previously had served about seven years in prison for bank robbery.

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