Man caught after breaking through drywall at state-operated holding center

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) -- A Parkersburg man is back in custody after briefly breaking out of the Wood County Holding Facility on Wednesday, but it's how he escaped that's attracting attention.

Anthony Michael Douglas, 33, had been alone in the facility’s interview room on Wednesday awaiting transfer back to the North Central Regional Jail following a court appearance.

Officials said a preliminary investigation suggests that an officer at the facility, who hasn't been identified, left Douglas unattended for about four hours starting about 2:30 p.m. after he was interviewed by a law-enforcement officer.

State officials said they think Douglas broke through some drywall into a hallway and then escaped through a rear door about 6:30 p.m.

The hole was not found until early Thursday. That prompted officials to conduct a headcount after which the facility alerted law enforcement about 9:30 a.m.

A U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force, which included West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety personnel, caught Douglas on Parkersburg’s south side about 10:40 a.m.

Douglas is being charged with escape and felony destruction of property. He originally was in custody for a charge of being a prohibited person with a firearm, according to the corrections officials said.

The state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation began leasing the facility from Wood County in July 2018.

Division Commissioner Betsy Jividen said the incident is under internal review by its Inspector General section, and the Wood County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a parallel criminal investigation.

DMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy said that once these are complete, appropriate actions will occur.