December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Director: Escapee walked out open door

ELYRIA — Drew Manns had told fellow inmates at the Lorain/Medina Community Based Correctional Facility that he wanted to escape because he feared various rules infractions would lead to him being kicked out of the treatment facility and sent to prison.
Sometime early Thursday, CBCF Executive Director Mike Willets said, Manns carried out his plan.

Manns, 23, appears to have fled through a door leading to an outdoor recreation area that was left open near the room where he and other inmates had bunked down for the night.

The door was open so fans set up by Elyria firefighters could blow smoke out of the facility, and Manns appears to have scaled a fence surrounding the recreation area to complete his escape, Willets said.

A computer caught fire in an office at the CBCF about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, forcing the 16 woman and 48 men being held at the facility to be evacuated while firefighters contained the blaze, which they believe was accidental.

Willets said Manns walked back in with the rest of the inmates about 11:15 p.m. and wanted to make sure he would get his medication. There was no indication that he planned to flee, he said.

But when a headcount of the inmates was conducted about 6:55 a.m. Thursday, Manns was nowhere to be found, said CBCF Operations Director Don Nickerson.

County sheriff’s deputies were alerted to the escape and were taking steps to track Manns down, Nickerson said.
Willets said on any other night, Manns never would have been able to get out the door because it’s normally locked.
Manns arrived Aug. 27 at the facility, which tries to teach inmates to live a crime- and drug-free life, after he violated the terms of his probation for a receiving stolen property conviction that stemmed from his arrest last year after he was caught driving a stolen 1992 Chevy Beretta.

Willets said he was warned by county jail officials that Manns was a problem inmate. Court records bear out a history of mental illness and at least one suicide attempt while he was in custody over the years.

Willets said during his time at the CBCF, Manns collected several write-ups, none of which were severe enough to get him kicked out of the program.

Manns got in trouble twice Wednesday, once in the morning for refusing to get out of bed and again that evening after he was caught smoking in a shower stall. On Sept. 4, he was written up for sleeping in the dayroom.

On Monday, he got in trouble for refusing to sit down during a class. On Tuesday, Willets said, Manns threw a cup of ice at another inmate.

Nickerson said an internal investigation is being conducted to determine if any staff members were at fault in the escape and what, if any, punishment they should face.

One thing is certain, Willets said, Manns fears have now come true — he’s not welcome at the CBCF any longer.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.