WAYNESBURG (KDKA) — Fencing capped with razor-sharp wire on a rural hilltop, the Greene County Prison is where inmates await trial or sentencing.
Last Saturday afternoon at about 12:30 p.m., two prisoners broke out of a recreation yard.
Just two hours outside the walls, they didn’t get far.
State police corralled 27-year-old Rocco Iacovone, of Washington, who is being held for leading police on a high speed chase and is also a suspect in armed robberies, and 33-year-old Jason Roe, of Daisytown, who is charged with murder.
“What happened was staff failed to lock the security gate between the maximum security yard and minimum security yard,” said Warden Harry Gillispie, of the Greene County Prison.
A tower officer who spotted the men gave a command to halt and fired a warning shot. The escapees, turning a picnic table on end, scaled a service gate.
“There was enough room that they could shove the gate out enough so that they could squeeze through and drop to the ground,” Gillispie said.
The prison’s emergency apprehension plan alerted state police, and remaining prisoners were locked down. A head count began.
“The area was saturated with law enforcement,” Gillispie said.
Running into woods, Roe and Iacovone were caught in an open field less than a mile away.
“Still wearing their green and white stripped prison uniforms,” said Gillispie.
And Gillispie, a veteran warden, breathed a sigh of relief.
“I’m just relieved that no one was hurt in the escape, and that they’re back behind bars,” he said.
Several changes were made at the prison, some that same day.
“We immediately secured the top of that gate with a chain and padlock until we could make permanent improvement,” said Gillispie.
The importance of following policy and procedure was impressed upon staff. Also, Greene County commissioners are working with the warden on a new emergency notification system.