Escaped Inmate Recap

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12968018 461882230684696 4413646606042903575 oST. JOHNSBURY- If you were in the St. Johnsbury area Wednesday you may have heard helicopters, dogs barking, and seen multiple law enforcement agencies patroling the area. The reason for this? An inmate from the Caledonia County Work Camp had escaped. 

 William "Billy" Blanchard escaped out of a bathroom window at the town garage. "At about 1:19 this afternoon a subject that was on work crew, working here at the town garage decided he didn't want to be work crew anymore. After going into the bathroom he snuck out through the bathroom window and he fled on foot. Just before he had left he took a town employee's sweatshirt. After Blanchard fled out into the woods he ditched some of his clothing and utilized the clothing he'd taken and continued to flee from there," stated Chief Houde from the St. Johnsbury Police Department. 

Chief Houde led the investigation, with the help of his officers, Lyndonville Police, Vermont State Police, and Caledonia County Sheriff Department, along with their K-9 Units. Lyndonville Police's Chief Harris and his K-9 Brandy assisted, "we picked up areas where we verified that the suspect probably was. I won't say she was directly on him until we locate him and find out."

U.S. Customs also helped out by sending two of their own helicopters to have a air search. The first helicopter spent over an hour searching in the air and was relieved by the second as it was running out of fuel. "It's getting to the area where we were so far ahead of us. The helicopter with the special equipment can cover more ground faster than myself and the dog can," said Harris. Houde added "We are utilizing several K-9 teams, Vermont State Police, Customs air support and trying to give a really thorough search of the area. He's either still in the area and trying to find a way out or he had a plan together to get picked up. But we want to make sure we give a good thorough search to the area before it gets too dark."

Houde called off the search at 10:17pm Wednesday night once it got too dark, but resumed the search Thursday morning. They stopped activily searching and continued to just follow leads.

 

"Probably around seven o'clock, Officer Sean O'Brien of the Littleton Police Department received information from a citizen here that was concerned about being contacted by Blanchard," said Littleton Police Chief Paul Smith. "Mr Blanchard had indicated that he did want to meet the person who had called us at that person's residence later on in the evening, but obviously was concerned that he would be apprehended by the police and was trying to avoid detection."

At 10:45pm the police arrested Blanchard without incident on Pleasant Street in Littleton. He is being held at Grafton County Sheriff Department without bail. He did however sign a form of extradition. Via video call Blanchard was arraigned this morning. He was in Haverhill Second Circut Court, while the judge who presided that hearing, Judge thomas Rappa was in Plymouth Second Circut Court, and Prosecuter Natch Greyes was in Littleton Second Circut Court. When we spoke to Smith after the hearing he did have more to add, "I was just notified that there were some outstanding charge in the state of New Hampshire. I believe on a parole violation he might be repremanded to the New Hampshire state prison to finalize that sentence before he is sent back to the state of Vermont"

There is no set court date yet and Blanchard is still in New Hampshire. Director of Correction Facilities in Vermont, Michael Touchette, did speak with News 7 on the situation. Touchette said that Blanchard has no set date to come back yet and will most likely serve prison time in New Hampshire before returning to Vermont.

In past months the Caledonia Work Camp has been under discussion because of the possibility of it closing due to lower number of inmates. It has the capability to house 112 inmates, and at this time only has 56. Now after the inmate escape the work camp might be losing more than just one inmate. "I don't know. The Governor already put in the proposal to have it shut down. I know that the senate appropriations committee it's kind of in their hands at this point as they mull over what their options are," stated Touchette. 

The work camp has been postponed until further notice. 

"We're going to be conducting a critical incident review which will take a look at all the specifics of this case and the inmate involved. Part of that practices, part of that exercise will be to evalute our policies and practices and security procedures to understand where there are vulnerabilities, where our areas of strength are. And make any adjustment that we think may be appropriate given what we have learned from that exercise, " added Touchette.