A Deschutes County jail inmate experienced freedom for less than 24 hours before he was back in custody facing a host of new charges.
Keith Schmidtke, 38, allegedly escaped from the jail sometime between 6:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. Sunday.
According to Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton, Schmidtke was on kitchen work detail Sunday evening when he ran through the parking lot between the jail and the nearby work center, scaled a fence and escaped.
“At any given time, we have more than 200 (inmates) daily, and with that comes the responsibility of moving people and the reclassification of people and also a good deal of trust that we have with some people who have earned privileges, including Mr. Schmidtke,” he said.
Schmidtke had qualified for an inmate work crew and was working in the kitchen. He was housed in the inmate worker dorm, away from the general inmates.
Over the past decade, Schmidtke has been convicted of a variety of crimes, including identity theft, possession of a controlled substance, theft and menacing.
He was in the jail facing pending charges, including identity theft, first-degree theft, second-degree criminal mischief and unlawful entry into a motor vehicle.
“Just after 6:30 p.m., when the kitchen detail was finished, we had occasion to do one of our inmate moves from the adult jail back to the work center, and sometime (between) that time and just after 11 p.m., Schmidtke, during an all-agency headcount, came up missing,” Blanton said.
Blanton said an investigation quickly revealed that Schmidtke had not acted alone and that it was unlikely he had remained in the immediate area.
Still, deputies searched the area and Sheriff’s Office property, and an alert was issued around 3 a.m. to all nearby residents. Blanton said there were technical difficulties operating the equipment and getting the alert out to the public.
On Monday, the Sheriff’s Office received information that Schmidtke was in the 61000 block of Duncan Lane in Southwest Bend, according to a news release, and detectives tried to take him into custody. Schmidtke allegedly ran from the home, and Bend Police and Oregon State Police helped set up a perimeter in the area, at which point police dogs from Bend Police and the Sheriff’s Office tracked Schmidtke. He was found in a nearby backyard and was bitten by one of the dogs, Ezel, but allegedly got away and ran again before being taken into custody in the 20000 block of Cumulus Lane.
Schmidtke was treated at St. Charles Bend for non-life-threatening injuries before being returned to the jail. He now faces additional charges of second- and third-degree escape, second-degree conspiracy to commit escape, resisting arrest, attempting to elude on foot, and three counts of criminal mischief, and is being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Meanwhile, on Monday morning, deputies also arrested Cecil Archie Turner, 30, on suspicion of second-degree criminal conspiracy. Turner is suspected of helping Schmidtke escape from the jail.
Blanton blamed himself for the breach of security.
“That’s not acceptable. It’s my responsibility, and we can do better than that.”
Blanton said the last escape from the Deschutes County jail took place in 2003, when an inmate was at an outside medical facility and assaulted a corrections deputy and escaped.
“We have to learn from all situations like this, and if we need to make adjustments in policy we’ll do that,” he said. “We try not to do everything routinely at the same time every day because as you know, we deal with some pretty challenging people. … We move a lot of inmates, but it’s not acceptable for one ever to escape, and we take that seriously.”