NORTH READING (FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – A pair of male suspects reportedly walked straight out of the North Reading Police Department on Monday morning. It took a call from the mother of one of the suspects for police to realize that they were missing.
Even though the North Reading Police Department is a new facility equipped with security cameras and heavy doors that lock automatically, a 21- and 22-year-old managed to break out after an officer left the cell door ajar.
According to the North Reading Town Administrator, there were three failures that allowed the suspects to escape: the cell was not secured properly, the monitor for the surveillance cameras was not working in one area and the console was not secured.
The officer who neglected to secure the door properly has since been retrained and the faulty monitor has been fixed. Officials are looking into why the monitor malfunctioned in the first place. Officers have also secured the console.
The town administrator also said that the suspects did not walk by anyone else in order to get out of the police department.
"The force that he used to shut the door was a little bit too much for the door to handle, and it bounced back a little bit - unbeknownst to the officer. Bounced back within a quarter of an inch which made the locking mechanism not work properly," Chief Michael Murphy told FOX 25.
"How did he not notice that the door was ajar then?" FOX 25's Heather Hegedus asked.
"The door sits into about an inch and a half worth of framing. So it bounced back to a point where he didn't notice it," said Chief Murphy.
Christian Giangrande, 22, and Justin Pelletier, 21, were in police custody for heroin charges and were only missing for about an hour, but the suspects' families told FOX 25 that they managed to get a mile-and-a-half from jail.
Giangrande's mother called police to say her son was in a family member's attic.
The chief told FOX 25 that officers are required to check in with prisoners face-to-face every half an hour; however, at that time when the prisoners escaped, the officer had just left.
Chief Murphy admits it wasn't just a mechanical error, but human error played a role in the incident as well. He says the officer responsible has since been retrained on how to properly shut the cell door. He also says he is working with other town officials to address and correct the mechanical problems that led to the escape.
Chief Murphy says he is owning up to the issue and wants the public to feel safe.
"Nine times out of ten the cell door shuts correctly [when an officer closes it with the force our officer used to close it]. But nine times out of ten isn't good enough and this is an unfortunate incident and there's no question about it. But I'm glad we were able to expose this incident now. Nothing happened. Nobody was hurt," said Chief Murphy.
Pelletier and Giangrande now also face escape charges. Pelletier is out on $250 bail while Giangrande is being held in relation to his probation.
Pelletier is due back in court on Sept. 11, 2012 for a pretrial hearing.
Giangrande has several previous arrests, including one for heroin possession, and was on probation for that charge when he was arrested on Monday. He is also due back in court on Sept. 11, 2012.
Chief Murphy is working with other town officials to take corrective actions and also plans on retraining the entire police force on the way the jail cell doors lock.