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Captain at ND jail resigns in wake of recent escape

This is the third reported escape by an inmate from within the LEC in about two years

By Andrew Hazzard
Grand Forks Herald

DEVILS LAKE, ND — A ranking officer at the Lake Region jail has resigned in the wake of the escape of an inmate last week, the third escape at the facility in two years, after an administrative review found multiple policies were not followed.

Capt. Duane Armstrong tendered his resignation from the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center effective immediately following the escape of 25-year-old Seth Suko on July 5. Correctional staff did not notice Suko was missing until about 30 hours after he managed to jump over one fence, crawl under another and flee the facility. He was recaptured July 7.

About 1:45 p.m. July 5, Suko was among a group of inmates being brought back into the jail from the outdoor recreation area when he jumped a fence separating the recreation yard from an unused portion of the jail, according to an investigation by the jail administration. He then crawled under another section of fence and escaped the facility.

Corrections officers did not realize Suko, a registered sex-offender who was being held on multiple charges, was gone until 7:30 p.m. July 6.

“During our administrative investigation it was found that numerous policies were not followed, and that procedures that had been put in place were not enforced,” jail director Rob Johnson wrote in a release.

The North Dakota Bureau of Investigation concluded the escape resulted from insufficient training and a failure to follow policies and procedures.

As a result, Lake Region will conduct an internal audit of facility practices, Johnson wrote. This will include attempting to bring in more experienced correctional officers.

Armstong had been temporarily in charge of the jail in 2014 after the dismissal of former jail administrator Danny Deegan. He previously was a North Dakota Highway Patrol officer.

Most of the LEC inmates charged with escape tend to be “walkaways” -- prisoners who are released on furlough and don’t return by their designated time. However, this is the third reported escape by an inmate from within the LEC in about two years.

Wesley E. Brown III is serving time in federal prison after escaping the jail in March 2013 with the help of former correctional officer Rachel Marie Chepulis. Law enforcement caught up with them several weeks later in Oregon.

Another prisoner, Kenneth James Eagleman, pleaded guilty to using a steel grate to break a window at the LEC before climbing out of it in April 2016. He was found a week later.

The jail does not believe Suko had any assistance from correctional staff.

©2017 the Grand Forks Herald

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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