A 17-year-old District youth charged this week with two counts of first-degree murder had escaped three times this year from Oak Hill, the city's maximum-security detention center for juveniles, according to internal documents.
The suspect, Carl S. Richardson, who was being held without bond yesterday at the Prince George's County Correctional Center, had escaped from Oak Hill in February, June and Sept. 27.
One of the slayings occurred in August and the other took place this month.
District officials said yesterday they were conducting an investigation into Richardson's latest escape from the infirmary at the juvenile facility in Laurel.
In September, Richardson apparently escaped through an unlocked fence door in the infirmary's yard where he had been left outside to exercise, according to confidential statements filed shortly after the escape.
Richardson's arrest occurs at a critical juncture for city officials who were ordered last week by a judge to reduce the population at its juvenile facilities by more than half and to create group homes in the community for about 120 youths. City lawyers and law enforcement officials have argued that a number of the youths housed in the facilities are violent and may commit additional crimes if they escape or are allowed home on weekend visits.
Oak Hill has been plagued by reports that more than 160 youths had escaped from the facility since August 1986.
In related developments, sources said that Richardson, who was being held in the facility on charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle, also is suspected of aiding three other youths who escaped from Oak Hill on Monday by tossing a wire cutter over the fence.
Criminal contempt charges also were dismissed yesterday against the superintendent at the Oak Hill Annex, formerly known as Cedar Knolls, for violating a D.C. Superior Court judge's order earlier this year not to allow a youth to go home on a scheduled weekend visit. While on the home visit the youth was charged with a crime in Virginia.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Nan Huhn vacated her order against Sharon Harrell, the superintendent, after city officials demonstrated that the handwritten order was illegible.
In Richardson's case, he escaped from the Oak Hill infirmary at nearby Forest Haven, after he asked a secretary not normally assigned there to allow him to exercise in the yard. Richardson was being held in the infirmary for treatment of a gun wound that he received after his escape in June.
According to a confidential statement made by the secretary, Richardson apparently knew there was a door in the 15-foot fence that a gardener had left unlocked a couple of days earlier. The secretary said Richardson escaped after she escorted another youth to the bathroom.
She alleged that Richardson apparently had "picked my pocket of my car keys" and stole her car to make his getaway.
Richardson was arrested by District police and returned to Oak Hill at the end of August or early September after police received an anonymous tip that Richardson had entered the hospital for treatment under an alias. Richardson is known at the facility as an "escape artist".
One of the Prince George's County slayings for which Richardson is being charged as an adult occurred Aug. 16. Prince George's County police also have charged Richardson with an Aug. 14 assault on three persons whom he allegedly shot and wounded during a robbery at the Prince George's Motor Lodge.
D.C. police sources said yesterday they had no idea Richardson was a suspect in the Prince George's County shootings when he was returned to Oak Hill during the summer. The second slaying occurred on Oct. 7, less than two weeks after Richardson made his latest escape from Oak Hill.