Hugo Selenski, suspected in the murders of five people found buried in his yard, escaped Friday by climbing down a rope assembled from 12 prison-issue bedsheets, Luzerne County Correctional Facility Warden Gene P. Fischi said. Selenski remained at large Sunday.
The escape occurred at about 9:30 p.m., near the end of a two-hour period during which individual cells are unlocked and inmates in the overcrowded maximum security unit are permitted to socialize.
Selenski, 30, and cellmate Scott Bolton walked into another inmate's unoccupied cell and removed the same window that was taken out in a failed 1990 escape attempt, Fischi said. The earlier attempt prompted the jail to weld windows to their frames, install bolts and add a layer of wire mesh to the interior.
Fischi would not offer any further details on the escape, or say how it was known the two had no tools. He said additional precautions were now in place.
Bolton fell from about five floors up during the escape and suffered broken bones and internal injuries. He was hospitalized in critical condition.
The injured inmate told a prison guard, a police officer and a medical worker that Selenski pushed him during their escape, Fischi said. The warden said Bolton did not say whether he was pushed accidentally or deliberately.
It wasn't known whether Selenski received any help from outside the prison before or since his escape, said Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas.
It's unclear how Selenski and Bolton were able to gather the 12 sheets, Fischi said, but four came from their own beds. A few other maximum-security unit inmates were missing sheets.
Lupas criticized prison officials for allowing Selenski to wear nondescript civilian clothing and for giving the men access to a broom handle that might have been used to pry open the window.
Fischi said the white T-shirt and gray sweat pants Selenski was wearing are standard inmate exercise attire.
Selenski's lawyer, Demetrius Fannick, said neither he nor any of Selenski's family members have heard from him. A phone call Selenski made from prison less than two hours before the escape was to his girlfriend, Christina Strom, but she said he did not mention his plans.
"She was completely shocked when the police showed up at her door," Fannick said.
Selenski has been in jail since June, when police acting on a tip obtained a search warrant and began digging up bodies in his yard. Prosecutors said two victims 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.
The jail in downtown Wilkes-Barre, 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia, sits on the banks of the Susquehanna River.