A fugitive who walked out on his work release approximately 11 months ago has been apprehended in Hartwell, Ga.
According to Elk County Prison Warden Gregory J. Gebauer, William Umstead, who previously was employed as a laborer for a company in Bradford, has been on the loose for nearly a year.
Umstead, serving a 90-day sentence for domestic relations [failure to pay child support], was granted work release but failed to report back to Elk County Prison following his shift nearly a year ago.
"The Ridgway Borough Police had leads that [Umstead] was in the Georgia area, possibly in that area and through following up with all the leads, he was apprehended by the Hart County Sheriff's Department," Gebauer said.
Umstead was reportedly taken into custody without incident, incarcerated in the Hart County Prison, waived extradition and was extradited back to Elk County Prison. He is now in custody and facing escape charges.
Initially receiving a 90-day sentence, Umstead barely made it two weeks before skipping out.
"This has happened before and it's not a criminal charge-- it's a civil charge and the original charge was actually contempt for not paying child support," Gebauer said. "We received word that he was actually traveling with his girlfriend [when he was apprehended] and whatever their plan was, I don't know at this point and I'm not really going to interview [Umstead] about it because he's now facing escape charges."
Inmates skipping out on work release and furloughs is nothing new for Elk County. Douglas Eugene Green, a former Elk County Prison inmate, was issued a six-hour furlough back in April of 2009 to attend a funeral in Clarion. Approximately six days later, Green was captured in Colcord, Okla. on April 9.
"The last individual who was in here and escaped from the work release program [Green] was in for the same thing [domestic relations contempt] and ended up out in Oklahoma," Gebauer said. "[Green] was brought back, had to complete the remainder of his sentence plus an additional 90 days because he had no prior criminal record.
"Judges are always bound by sentencing guidelines and you have to take into consideration the offender's prior record score and offense gravity score. If you don't have a prior record or any type of prior criminal offense, you pretty much fall into the lower guideline for sentencing."
Pick up a copy of the Saturday, July 9, 2011 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.