The second of two inmates who used a homemade grappling hook to escape from prison was captured Friday after four days on the run, and Gov. Tom Vilsack suspended at least one state employee in connection with the breakout.
Vilsack said more suspensions were expected as state officials investigate how the inmates, using a rope fashioned from upholstery webbing from the prison furniture shop, were able to scale a 30-foot stone wall without officials noticing.
Robert Joseph Legendre, 27, was captured without incident at a truck stop in Steele, Mo., where he was found sitting in a stolen pickup truck. The other escaped convict, Martin Moon, 34, was arrested Thursday, near Chester, Ill.
The men scaled a wall Monday at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, about 325 miles from where Legendre was captured.
Legendre had been seen repeatedly at the truck stop since Thursday afternoon. He had asked customers for gas money.
“The girls were making him a sub, and he said he was a state convict,” said Vivian Hannaford, a cashier. “We thought he was kidding.”
Steele police Chief Mike Tomlinson found Legendre at a truck stop, in a pickup truck that had been reported stolen, said Ryan Holder, a Pemiscott County, Mo., sheriff’s investigator. Legendre gave up peacefully and was in custody in Pemiscott County, Holder said.
Moon was returned to Iowa later Thursday, said Fred Scaletta, an Iowa prison spokesman. He made an initial appearance Friday in a courtroom inside the prison, charged with escape, and a public defender was appointed to represent him.
Legendre was convicted in Nevada in the kidnapping and attempted murder of a Las Vegas cabbie and was transferred to Iowa last year. He was serving two sentences of 15 years to life. Moon was convicted of murder in 2000 for shooting his roommate during a drug deal in 1990 and was serving a life sentence.
No guard due to budget cuts
A corrections official has said the guard tower near the spot where the inmates went over the wall was unmanned at the time because of budget cuts.
The governor would not identify the suspended employee or his position, but said there was a failure to account for inmates in the prison industries, where Moon and Legendre had been working.
Moon was serving a life sentence for murder in the 1990 shooting of his roommate during a drug deal. Legendre was convicted in the kidnapping and attempted murder of a Las Vegas cabbie.
Investigators believe the two men immediately split up after escaping. They were captured about 125 miles apart.