Weak ceiling, open gate, helped Oahu inmate escape walk out of jail

Weak ceiling, open gate, helped Oahu inmate escape walk out of jail
Published: Aug. 29, 2014 at 5:18 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 29, 2014 at 10:10 PM HST
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OCCC's Annex One
OCCC's Annex One
OCCC's Annex One Roof
OCCC's Annex One Roof

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was too easy.

The state Department of Public Safety on Friday detailed how an Oahu Community Correctional Center inmate was able to walk out of jail.

Daniel Skelton's escape sparked a three-day manhunt and exposed multiple problems with the jail.

The department says Skelton climbed through an opening in the ceiling of the bathroom for Annex One.  He jumped the 8-feet from the roof and walked through an open gate.

Shielded by darkness and parked cars, DPS officials say he was able to leave through the front entrance, right under the guard tower.

But, as Hawaii News Now first reported in June, Skelton's absence wasn't noticed for almost seven hours despite two head counts.

Skelton escaped about 11 pm on June 15.  There was supposed to be a head count at 1:30 am, and another at 3:30 am. But it wasn't until the 6 am count that corrections officers realized he was gone.

"They're required to look at every inmate.  They are required to observe flesh and they are required to observe some movement ... like breathing," says Public Safety Director Ted Sakai.

The investigation is looking into possible staff misconduct.

Since the escape, DPS has made security upgrades: The ceiling for Annex One has been reinforced, a second gate has been added, more lights were installed along the perimeter fence along with new razor wire. Sakai also says he will ask the legislature for $200,000 to improve surveillance equipment and add motion sensors to the fences.

Skelton was captured several days later by Sheriff's deputies and U.S. Marshals.  He was spotted running between homes in Nuuanu, sporting orange hair.

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