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Violent inmate escapes Hillsborough jail

TAMPA — The man accused of rape said he had chest pains.

Raymond Weldon Marston Jr., an inmate at the Falkenburg Road Jail, told deputies in Pod 6-B on Sunday that he needed medical attention right away.

Deputy James Flagg called for someone to escort Marston to the jail's medical clinic, then brought the 50-year-old felon outside to wait. Marston said the pain was getting worse.

Flagg stepped inside the pod to check on the progress of the deputy coming to escort Marston.

When Flagg returned at 9:20 p.m., the supposedly ailing inmate with a violent history was gone.

Deputies put the jail in lockdown and conducted a 40-minute inmate head count.

Meanwhile, the 6-foot, 150-pound Marston ran toward another building where he shimmied up a drain spout, climbed onto a roof, crawled through razor wire at the building's roof line, then traversed the roof until he reached an area of the detention facility that is under construction, spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

There, in the dark of night, Marston dropped to the ground. He then walked through the construction site and disappeared through a gate left open at the southern area of the jail by a crew working for Clark Construction, Carter said.

Forty deputies, two helicopters, bloodhounds and several detectives immediately began searching for Marston, who sometimes goes by "Ray Dallas Cason" and "Richard Hamilton." Alerts were issued to local and national law enforcement agencies.

But Marston remained at large late Monday.

Detectives think Marston may have fled south on Falkenburg Road, toward State Road 60, wearing his jail-issued orange pants and shirt.

They have found no evidence he shed his jail attire along the way, Carter said.

A 21-year-old woman who was raped, beaten and robbed May 26 while walking down Sheldon Road was notified that the man accused of raping her was on the loose.

"She's with loved ones," Carter said, when asked if the woman had protection.

By Monday afternoon, two jail employees — Flagg and his supervisor, Lt. Michael Farrier — had been placed on unpaid leave, pending administrative review of the incident, Carter said. Flagg, 60, joined the Sheriff's Office in 2006, and Farrier, 38, was hired in 1994.

"I am not happy," said Col. Jim Previtera, who oversees the jails. "We have an obligation to hold this individual and to prevent him from escaping and, in this case, we didn't fulfill that obligation."

Previtera and Carter said detectives would be reviewing the matter from top to bottom to understand exactly what went wrong and why.

Administrators also met Monday with leaders from Clark Construction, which has been overseeing the construction of 768 new beds at Falkenburg — a project that began in November 2006 and is expected to be complete in January.

"I feel an obligation to find out how we failed and to make sure it doesn't happen again," Previtera said.

The Sheriff's Office notified the media of Marston's escape at 12:16 a.m. — almost three hours after he disappeared. Carter said it probably took that long to complete the head count and notify the appropriate sheriff's administrators.

Marston was arrested in June, charged with three counts of sexual battery, one count of kidnapping and one count of robbery.

Lab results revealed a DNA match between Marston and evidence collected from a woman who was attacked as she walked home from work.

Deputies think Marston hit the woman several times, covered her head with his T-shirt, forced her to crawl along a bridge walkway, then raped her and stole money from her purse.

Jail records show that Marston is a day laborer and that he is homeless.

He has been arrested 26 times since age 18, when he was convicted of felony burglary and was sentenced to several months in jail, according to state records. He has convictions for burglary, possessing a forged instrument, illegal firearms possession, domestic battery, drug possession and resisting arrest.

Staff writer Joshua Neiderer contributed to this report. Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

. FAST FACTS

Reward offered

Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Raymond Weldon Marston Jr. He is white, 6 feet tall, 150 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes, a tattoo of the word "Kandy" across his left arm and a tattoo of a cross on his right arm.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-8477. Anonymous reports also can be made online at crimestopperstb.com or by text to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637), by entering the keyword Tip155 and the message.

Violent inmate escapes Hillsborough jail 10/27/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 12:27pm]
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