EAD > Two Inmates Escape From County Prison

Two Inmates Escape From County Prison


State and county authorities spent most of the night searching for two inmates who escaped from the Grafton County House of Correction in Haverhill, Wednesday.

Superintendent of the facility Glenn Libby said early Thursday morning that the two got out of the prison by cutting a hole in the ceiling of their cell. A press release from state police who are assisting in the search stated that after the pair got out of the cell, they gained access to the roof through a peak vent and made it to the ground using a ladder of make-shift sheets.

The escape, which Libby called well-planned, happened around 8:45 p.m.

The two are identified as Joseph P. Elwell, 31, whose last known address was Campton, and Neil West, 48, from Claremont. Elwell was being held at Grafton County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail on two pending charges before the Grafton County Superior Court of manufacturing a controlled drug, and felon in possession. West was serving a sentence by the Sullivan County Superior Court for a violation of probation from a reckless conduct charge. He had been sentenced to the New Hampshire State Prison, but his sentence was being served at the Grafton County facility.

Libby described the two as medium security prisoners. He said Elwell had been at the prison since February and West since March. He said the two probably planned the escape together, but that the event is still under investigation.

"It's fair to say they knew each other," he said.

Asked if the were considered dangerous, he said, "It's hard to say."

The Grafton County dispatch office said that West was seen entering the woods across Route 10 from the jail around 8:50 p.m. Elwell was reported missing about 10 minutes later.

Libby said state police, sheriff's deputies and the county attorney's office were assisting in the search, and that at one point were using dogs to look for the pair.

Libby became superintendent on March 8, replacing Sidney Bird who left to go to work at the new state prison being built in Berlin. Libby's experience included working as assistant superintendent at the Sullivan County House of Correction for five years before coming to Grafton County.

He called the escape a humbling experience.

"I've never had anything like this happen. I've always taken pride in my work. I'm not sure this could have been avoided. It was the result of real good planning," he said.

Libby said he had not had time to research when or if this had happened at Grafton County before, but said no one had any immediate recollection of an escape like this. He also said it was an escape, not a walk away by a minimum security prisoner.

West is described as 5'5," 140 pounds, with blue eyes and brown hair and a ruddy complexion. Elwell is 5'7," 130 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes and a fair complexion. Both were wearing yellow or yellow and gray clothing.

Warrants are in effect for both prisoners. Libby said the search would continue today. He was optimistic the pair would be caught.

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Copyright 1999

The Caledonian-Record



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