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Dina Parmertor promised she would stop thinking about her son’s killer after he was convicted last year in the deadly shooting spree at a Chardon, Ohio, high school. But the anguishing memories resurfaced overnight after Thomas “T.J.” Lane’s unexpected prison break Thursday.
While the 19-year-old murderer was captured early Friday, the episode has left Parmertor rattled — and demanding an explanation. “He looks like some wimpy weasel kid, but this is a dangerous person. He should have been watched,” she told NBC News after Lane was back in custody. “I’m so disheartened that it happened and I’m shocked,” Parmertor added. “Honestly, we want some answers and we deserve them. How could this have occurred?”
Prison officials at the Allen Correctional Institution said Lane managed to scale a perimeter fence around 7:30 p.m. along with two other inmates. Those inmates were also captured. Lane was found almost six hours later near a church just north of the prison in Lima, about 200 miles west of Chardon.
Lane fatally shot three students, including Parmertor's son, Daniel, after opening fire in the Chardon High School cafeteria in February 2012. Three others were wounded. Lane, who wasn’t a student at the school, never said why he committed the rampage, picking his victims at random. He wasn’t eligible for the death penalty because he was 17 at the time.
Before he was sentenced to life in prison without parole, he shocked the courtroom by wearing a T-shirt with “killer” scrawled across his chest, flipping his middle finger at the victims’ families and showing no remorse during a statement.
Parmertor said she was alerted by corrections officials about Lane’s escape and that police came to her home.“I just went into panic mode. I went into a panic attack. I had all these crazy thoughts in my head,” Parmertor said. “I have two other children and a husband. I thought, what does he want to do to my family now?”
Ian Friedman, who was part of Lane’s defense team during the trial, said his former client could now be charged with escape. Another court appearance means he would get the chance to speak again. That would be the fault of Ohio prison officials who inadvertently allowed Lane to flee, Friedman said Friday.
The incident has “put everybody right back into the courtroom,” he told NBC News. “It opens up a wound that hasn’t healed for everyone.”
Lane has reportedly had trouble adjusting to prison life, and his latest stunt will be the subject of a review, officials said. Lane was not being held in a maximum security facility although his prison unit is a “higher security," according to the state’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee.
Parmertor has a hunch for why he ran off. “He couldn’t handle it in there,” she said. “He’s just a little coward, a sick psychopath who wants to get any time away from that prison.”
Breaking News Emails
- School Shooter T.J. Lane Captured After Prison Escape
- Security Concerns Pre-Dated Killers' Prison Break (Columbus Dispatch)