Search continues for Pa. murder suspect who escaped from prison

Sunday, October 12, 2003

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

At least 50 officers using dogs and boats pursued the suspect, Hugo Selenski, who had been held since June when the remains of five people were found in his yard. A day of searching turned up no sign of the fugitive.

"How can something like this occur in this day and age, in the year 2003, where it seems that an inmate can simply pop a window out of the prison, climb out and run away?" District Attorney David Lupas said.

Officials at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

Warden Gene Fischi said Selenski and another inmate broke a 12-by-18-inch cell window on the seventh floor and threw a mattress out. The other inmate fell but Selenski shimmed down the makeshift rope to a second-story roof and used the mattress to scale a razor-wire fence, Fischi said.

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

The second inmate suffered broken bones and internal injuries in the fall and was hospitalized in critical condition.

The search was concentrated in northeast Pennsylvania, but state police trooper Tom Kelly acknowledged that Selenski could be out of the area.

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

Selenski, 30, and an alleged accomplice were charged Monday with murdering two men whose burned bones were among the five 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 had previously served about seven years in prison for bank robbery.

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