Drill bits, hacksaw blades and marijuana were smuggled into the high-rise Metropolitan Correction Center here just before murderer Bernard C. Welch and a fellow convict made good a daring escape from the federal prison last month, federal investigators disclosed today.
In criminal informations filed in U.S. District Court, federal prosecutors charged three men and three women with getting the contraband into the 26-story prison.
Prosecutors said the smuggled items "could be used to facilitate escape," but refused to say specifically whether Welch and fellow escapee Hugh Colomb were knowingly aided by others or somehow organized far-flung help while in prison.
One information, the legal equivalent of an indictment, alleges that Colomb received one hacksaw blade. During a fierce thunderstorm May 14, Welch and Colomb apparently used a barbell rod to smash through the outside wall of a maximum-security cell next to a 3-inch-wide window and, using an electrical extension cord, slid six stories to the street.
Today's disclosures were the first hint of any progress by U.S. marshals in their intensive hunt to recapture Welch, the killer of Washington cardiologist Michael Halberstam, and Colomb, who was serving a 48-year term for voluntary manslaughter, armed robbery and other charges. The FBI is probing the escape.
Prosecutors offered sketchy details today and did not explain how hacksaws might have been used.
One well-informed source indicated that some, or perhaps all six persons named today, are cooperating with the investigation. Two of the six are inmates at the correction center and have been placed in the federal Witness Protection program because of fears for their safety, officials said.
U.S. Attorney Anton R. Valukas alleged in the informations that DeAnna Yslava, 22, of Tucson, Ariz., "provided" drill bits May 4 and hacksaw blades May 7 to an inmate not named in the information. A second information charges that inmate Gene Newby, 26, "procured" these drill bits and blades.
Another information charges that Larry Vaughn, 33, a federal prisoner at the center, "aided and abetted the escape of inmate Hugh Colomb from MCC by supplying him with a hacksaw blade." That incident is alleged to have occurred either May 7 or May 14.
In addition, Barbara Newby, 24, of Tucson; Adrianne Koulouris, 21, of Cicero, and Harvellen Vaughn, 40, of Chicago, were charged with misdemeanors for "bringing marijuana to the inmates."
Welch, described by police as a "master burglar," was surprised by Halberstam and his wife, Elliott Jones, in their Northwest Washington home Dec. 5, 1980. Welch fled and, when Halberstam pursued him, Welch shot the physician twice in the chest.
Halberstam, driving himself to a hospital, spotted Welch fleeing on foot and struck him with the car before losing consciousness. Halberstam died at Sibley Hospital.
Welch was convicted of murder in April 1981 and sentenced to 143 years in prison.