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9 teens are back in custody after escaping from a Pennsylvania detention center

Nine young inmates escaped from the Abraxas Academy detention center on Sunday, police said.
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Nine young inmates escaped from the Abraxas Academy detention center on Sunday, police said.

For the second time in two weeks, Pennsylvania police scrambled to conduct a manhunt and local residents were set on edge after inmates broke out of detention facilities.

This time it was nine male teens who escaped from the Abraxas Academy in Morgantown on Sunday evening. Police said all nine were back in custody as of Monday morning.

The overnight search unfolded roughly 15 miles from where escaped inmate Danelo Cavalcante was taken into custody last week after "crab-walking" out of the Chester County jail and leading police on a two-week chase that captivated the nation.

Some of the teens turned themselves in because they were cold, police said

The juvenile inmates, all between the ages of 15 to 17, escaped from the Abraxas Academy sometime before 8 p.m. on Sunday, police said in a Monday morning press conference.

The teens worked together to overtake two female guards, steal keys to the facility, slip out of a side door and climb under a fence.

An estimated 60 authorities were called in for an overnight search conducted with drones and K-9 units, said State Police Trooper David Beohm.

Police quickly received a tip on the group's whereabouts after at least one of them broke into a car in an attempt to steal it, setting off the car's alarm and prompting the homeowner to call the police.

Four of the teens were taken into custody Monday morning at 5:47 a.m., roughly 4.5 miles from the detention center. Trooper Beohm said they knocked on a homeowner's door and turned themselves in.

"They basically gave up because they were tired, they were cold," he said, adding that they had only slide shoes as footwear. "Those woods are a far cry from the streets of Harrisburg or Philly."

The remaining five were detained just down the road around 6:30 a.m. after police received a report of a stolen truck and trailer.

Once police spotted the vehicle, there was a "short pursuit" and one of the boys was apprehended after taking off on foot, Beohm said.

This is the second major incident at Abraxas Academy in three months

The teens will be charged with escape and interviewed for possible other charges, Beohm said. It wasn't immediately clear whether they'll be brought back to the detention center.

Sunday night's escape was the second major incident at Abraxas since July, when a fight between several teens turned into a riot involving dozens. It took police several hours to gain control, according to NPR member station WHYY.

The center, which first opened in 1973, describes itself as a "safe and trauma-informed treatment environment" for at-risk youth, providing services to over 7,000 youth and their families each year.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.