Seven men, including two awaiting trial on homicide charges, broke out of the Baltimore County jail early yesterday morning by cutting through a window grille with hacksaw blades and lowering themselves to the ground with a makeshift rope of knotted bedsheets.
Meanwhile, two men described as "extremely dangerous" escaped from the Alexandria jail about noon after breakikng a lock in the exercise area. Both were being held as fugitives from North Carolina, where one faced a homicide charge, authorities said.
The escape occured shortly before the Thanksgiving meal was served and was not discovered until afterward, officials said.
Two of the Baltimore County fugitives were recaptured shortly after the breakout there, but police believe the others escaped by mingling with a crowd at a rock concert at Towson State University, across the street from the jail.
According to authorities, who described the escape as "very unusual," the men used both hacksaw blades and boltcutters to open the heavy mesh grille covering the window of their top-floor cell at the three-story jail in Towson, just north of Baltimore City.
After reaching the ground on the rope of sheets, wrapped for strength around electrical cord, they sliced through the chain link perimeter fence and apparently fled to the nearby campus about 12:45 a.m.
As a search began, involving dogs and a helicopter, one inmate was seized on the edge of the campus within 10 minutes of the breakout. Another was picked up three hours later a mile or two inside the city line. The five others, including the two held on homocide charges, remained at large late last night.
About 18 men are housed in the cell from which the escape was made. The jail holds about 250 inmates.
Authorities doubted the holiday prompted the escape. "I don't think any of 'em is home having Thanksgiving dinner," one official said.