Escaped Pennsylvania inmate, suspected in five deaths, surrenders after three days of freedom

Tuesday, October 14th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) _ After three days on the run, a murder suspect who escaped from jail by climbing down a 60-foot line of knotted bedsheets surrendered to state police at his rural home.

Hugo Selenski, who escaped Friday night from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, was taken into custody Monday night at his home in Kingston Township, said state police Trooper Tom Kelly.

Police had gone there earlier in the evening but were refused entry by Selenski's girlfriend, Christina Strom, Kelly said. About 45 minutes after they left, Selenski's attorney called to arrange the surrender, he said. Strom has not been charged with helping Selenski hide.

``He's in custody, we're happy and it ended apparently without anyone being hurt,'' Kelly said.

Selenski, who is suspected in five deaths, was being held without bail after arraignment on charges of escape and possession of weapons or implements for escape.

``I'm looking forward to trial _ that's all there is to it,'' Selenski told the Times Leader of Wilkes-Barre after his surrender. ``I'm innocent and that's all there is to it.'' He added: ``I wouldn't have missed this trial for anything.''

Selenski, 30, and his cellmate, Scott Bolton, 39, removed a 12-inch-by-18-inch window from the seventh floor of the jail. Bolton, who fell and was captured on a rooftop, remained hospitalized in critical condition with multiple internal injuries and broken bones.

Selenski used a jail mattress to protect himself against razor wire atop a metal fence to complete his escape.

He had been jailed since June, when police acting on a tip obtained a search warrant and began digging up bodies in the yard of his home Wilkes-Barre. He has since been charged with murdering two of the people whose bodies were exhumed.

Prosecutors said the two were killed in May as part of a plot to make money by kidnapping and robbing drug dealers.

Selenski is also a suspect in the deaths of three others, whose bodies were also recovered from his property. No charges have been filed in those deaths.

A man cooperating with authorities led investigators to the five bodies in Selenski's yard and claims to know of at least 11 other murders. Authorities are skeptical of his claims.

County prosecutor David Lupas, who has harshly criticized the apparent security breaches that led up to the escape and called for an investigation, said Selenski would not be returned to the same jail.

``He's going to be lodged and imprisoned at an undisclosed location,'' Lupas said. ``There were no deals or anything of that nature given to him.''