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Five Inmates Found to Be Missing In Wake of Prison Riot

October 30, 1989

CAMP HILL, Pa. (AP) _ Five inmates are missing following the two-day rampage that was put down last week at the Camp Hill state prison, authorities said today.

State police and security personnel were continuing building-by-building searches at the prison, said a statement issued today by the Corrections Department. Two buildings have not yet been searched. Also, a thorough search of the burned-out modular housing units had not been completed.

″As of late last night, our inmate population count was off by five. However, the sweeps will continue until the count is reconciled,″ the statement said.

The statement did not specify whether officials fear the missing inmates are dead or escaped, except to say that there were no reported breaches of the prison fences during the riot and that security has remained heavy since. Inmates being kept in yards were being closely supervised, the department said.

Corrections Department spokesman Kenneth Robinson said no possibilities had been ruled out - including an escape, the deaths of the inmates, a paperwork mistake in accounting for the men, or the possibility that they are hiding somewhere on the prison grounds.

Several investigations are expected to begin this week as officials try to determine the cause of the riots, including one by an independent panel to be named by Gov. Robert P. Casey.

On Sunday, Robinson said the situation at the prison was ″progressing and calm.″ He said 744 inmates had been transferred to other state prisons since the prison unrest ended Friday.

More than 100 people were injured during two nights of rioting that left many of the prison’s buildings unusable. Six inmates and four prison staffers remained hospitalized Sunday.

While the investigations at Camp Hill continue, authorities will be investigating in Philadelphia, too, where inmates seized control of a cellblock at Holmesburg Prison for about four hours Saturday night. Corrections Commissioner J. Patrick Gallagher said he intends to bring criminal charges against the inmates responsible for the riot.

Guards recaptured the city prison’s ″I″ Block, fighting with nightsticks as the prisoners fought back with homemade weapons, Gallagher said. Behind the guards, firefighters sprayed water on smoldering mattresses that had been torched by the inmates.

During the Holmesburg riot, inmates could be heard shouting ″Camp Hill, Camp Hill.″

After the riot was put down, 114 Holmesburg inmates and 47 guards were treated or examined at hospitals and nine inmates were admitted. No guards were admitted, but three received severe injuries including multiple broken bones and deep cuts, Gallagher said.

Yet another disturbance started Sunday night, when a small fire was set in a trash can at the Northeast Detention Center in Philadelphia. While the smoke was being cleared, about 100 inmates were taken to a gymnasium.

Four young men refused to return to their cells voluntarily, forcing guards to ″escort″ them, according to a city police detective who refused to give his name.

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