Bedsheet-escape inmate now in 'prison within a prison'

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

DALLAS, Pa. -- A murder suspect who escaped from jail by climbing down a rope of bedsheets spent his first full day in confinement Tuesday following his recapture, with his new quarters described as a "prison within a prison."

Hugo Selenski's new maximum-security cell has no windows -- and when he's outside that cell he'll be under escort and in handcuffs.

"It's kind of like a prison within a prison," George Matthews, spokesman for the State Correctional Institution in Dallas, said Tuesday.

Dallas is about 10 miles north of Wilkes-Barre and the Luzerne County Correctional Facility from which Selenski escaped Friday.

Selenski surrendered to authorities late Monday night at his rural home, where five bodies were found in June. He has been charged with murder in two of the deaths.

Also Tuesday, county commissioner Stephen A. Urban said Selenski took advantage of a botched repair job in shimmying down the bedsheets from the cell window.

Repairs were made to the seventh-story window after a 1989 escape attempt, but two panes of the window were easily broken out because they were too small and secured only with caulking, Urban said.

"They just weren't the right size to be secured," said Urban.

Selenski and cellmate Scott Bolton broke out during a two-hour period when the inmates are allowed out of their cells to socialize. Four guards in the area didn't notice when they walked into another inmate's unoccupied cell and removed the window. Bolton fell during the attempt and is hospitalized.

Selenski, 30, met Tuesday with his attorney for about 20 minutes but could talk to him only by telephone on opposite sides of a clear plastic barrier.

Attorney Demetrius Fannick said Selenski was convinced that the phones were being monitored and didn't reveal anything about his three days on the run.

On Monday, Fannick called authorities to arrange his client's surrender at Selenski's home outside Wilkes-Barre. Fannick said Selenski waited for his girlfriend, Christina Strom, to leave the house before he entered.

Strom on Tuesday told The Associated Press that she didn't have any contact with Selenski while he was out. She said she learned of his surrender while at a restaurant Monday evening.

"He would not have come here, knowing I was here, because he didn't want to get me in trouble," she said.

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