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All 9 teens back in custody after escaping Berks County juvenile detention center

Berks County community relieved after 9 juveniles escaped from detention center
Berks County community relieved after 9 juveniles escaped from detention center 02:11

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- All nine teens who escaped from the Abraxas Academy juvenile detention center in Morgantown, Pennsylvania, Sunday night are back in custody, Pennsylvania State Police said Monday morning.

Shortly after an early morning press conference Monday, police announced that four of the nine teens were back in custody after they were found on Oak Grove Road just before 6 a.m. 

The four teens had gone to a home in the area and banged on the door. When police arrived, they took the teens into custody. 

"They were done, they were tired, they were cold," Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Beohm said.  

Then, state police said shortly after 6:35 a.m. Monday, the remaining five were taken into custody.

Police said they received a report for a stolen vehicle and trailer in the 200 block of Oak Grove Road, near where the other teens were apprehended. A short pursuit ensued before they were able to get the vehicle to stop at Furnace and Mountz roads. Four were then taken into custody, while the fifth tried running off again into a field but was also caught. 

Police said none resisted arrest.

"They're really dirty looking and they look like they probably have been out walking in the woods," Trooper Beohm said.

The Twin Valley School District closed due to the escape. The school district originally said Monday's board meeting would be canceled, but that will now take place as originally scheduled.

Good Morning, As many of you may be aware, the nine prisoners who escaped from Abraxas were detained by about 7am this...

Posted by Twin Valley School District on Monday, September 18, 2023

The group managed to break out through a weak point in a fence at the facility, police said, adding that the incident was captured on video. 

Around 8 p.m. Sunday, Pennsylvania State Police got a call about a disturbance at the facility -- which was originally reported as a riot, however, police later said it was not. Once they arrived to help quell the commotion and get the kids back in their rooms, they discovered that nine were missing, according to police.

The escaped teens allegedly overtook two female staff members, ripping keys out of the hands of one, who suffered a minor injury. 

After taking the keys, the teens were able to get out of the building and into the yard, where they got out through the fence to make their escape, officials said.

Police said they then quickly called in reinforcements to help flood the area in search of the escapees and established a perimeter between Interstate 176 and State Route 10.

Roughly five hours after the escape, police said they got a call from a resident on the 500-block of State Drive, which is about five miles north of Abraxas after they heard a commotion and saw a "couple of people" who broke the window of their car and tried to gain access.

Police said they responded to the area, but the group had already run off after the resident turned their lights off.

"What they were wearing would stick out like a sore thumb," police said, adding that they were all similarly dressed. 

Two of the boys were wearing grey sweatpants, while the others either had on grey shorts or a shirt, and all had black slides. 

A K-9 had recovered at least one slide, police said.

The community near Abraxas in Berks County is breathing a sigh of relief after the teens were brought back into custody. 

A homeowner watched the escape unfold from his deck. 

"I looked at the back and I saw some boys running across the backyard and down into my field, and I immediately knew what was going on," said George, who didn't want to reveal his last name or show his face over safety concerns. 

 Monday turned out to be "quite the morning" for George and his girlfriend. 

The hours-long Pennsylvania State police-led search for nine teens who escaped from Abraxas came right to George's backyard.

Tire marks were left on his property by police cruisers, George said. 

"You know my adrenaline is pumping at this time. It took a couple hours to settle down," he said.

 George said he didn't think the escape would come to his backyard.

"We locked up and took all the keys, and took that precaution. Did what we were told just in case, and it was just in case," he said. 

Pam Niemitz lives in Spring City. Her daughter lives a quarter of a mile from where Cavalcante was captured.

"I think they should secure their prisons a little bit better," Niemitz said. "I've lived out here all my life, and I've always felt very safe, so this will pass."

"Oh, my God again? We just caught the other guy the other week and now we have this?" Joanna Saracco said.

She was in the Morgantown-area Monday visiting her son. She says she'll continue locking her doors following both escapes.

Seven teens are from Dauphin County, one from Berks County and another from York County. They range in age from 15 to 18 years old and were detained on a variety of charges, including robbery, car theft and for having a firearm, according to state police.

They will be charged with escape, criminal mischief, as well as any crimes they committed while on the lam, police said. 

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