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Third jail escapee caught

Police in New York City have captured the "most sophisticated" of the four inmates who escaped from the Hernando County Jail on Jan. 8. Darin Wilson, 29, became the third of the fugitives to be apprehended when he was arrested Monday in Queens, N.Y., on car-theft charges.

When he escaped, he already had pleaded no contest to violating his probation on nine forgery and fraud charges that had been filed against him in December 1987.

He had been sentenced to serve 22 years in a state prison.

The story of Wilson's capture brought out new details about the escape and the inmates' time on the run. All four men fled to New York City in a car stolen from near the jail, authorities say. The four kept the car for about two weeks before abandoning it near Central Park in Manhattan.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office also said Wilson called the detective who was searching for him - to see how the investigation was coming and to taunt him.

Wilson, who has used at least eight other names, was going by the alias Kenneth Pollett when he was arrested in Queens for unauthorized use of a vehicle. He was arranging to be released Wednesday on $500 bail for the misdemeanor offense when the Hernando Sheriff's Office got word to New York authorities to halt his release.

The Sheriff's Office received a tip from a source in Hernando County who had connections with Wilson's associates in New York. The informant said that Wilson had been arrested in New York, said Lt. Michael Hensley of the Sheriff's Office.

Hensley said the office was able to track Wilson within the massive New York City Police Department because Detective Hal Enders had spent four days in New York shortly after the escape and made contacts with the department's Career Criminal Apprehension Unit.

After the Sheriff's Office received the tip, Enders contacted the unit. The unit was able to locate Wilson in Queens shortly before he was to be released on bail, Hensley said.

Wilson is being held in New York without bail on the escape charges from Hernando County, as well as the federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Hensley said he did not know when Wilson might be returned to Hernando County.

Charles McWilliams, 21, who was being held in Hernando on charges of grand theft, burglary and escape, surrendered to authorities in New York on Jan. 26 and still is being held in jail there, Hensley said.

Richard L. Ayers, 23, who had been facing bank robbery charges, surrendered to the Sheriff's Office about a week after the escape. He drove with the others to New York, but returned to Hernando County soon afterward.

Only Calvin J. Tipton, 19, who was facing grand theft and burglary charges, as well as an escape charge for breaking out of the jail in November, remains free.

Wilson was described as a career criminal by Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Frank Bierwiler. "To be honest, they didn't think they would catch him."

Enders traveled to New York in the search for the inmates shortly after they escaped because a tipster had told authorities the men had headed there. The informant also provided Enders with specific knowledge of where and with whom Wilson and the other escapees would be staying.

Hensley said that McWilliams and Wilson stayed together for a short while after the escape and that Wilson had been living mostly in motels and hotels in and near New York City since the escape.

Wilson had lived in the city before, long enough to attend college there and to be charged with car theft and fraudulent use of credit cards in 1986, Hensley said.

He also was used to living under assumed names and had help from friends in New York. "He had a lot of acquaintances there," Enders said.

While Enders was in New York, he received a call from Wilson, who found out where the detective was staying by claiming he was a law-enforcement officer, Hensley said.

When he finally contacted Enders, "He said, "This is Darin,' " Enders said. "I got the distinct impression that he was very surprised that we would go up there."