WATERBURY, Conn. – A convict who dug his way out of a Puerto Rican prison in 1994 was captured Wednesday in Waterbury, where he had been living under an assumed name, police said.
Jose Rivera Sanchez (search) was serving a 37-year sentence for attempted murder, robbery and assault when he and nine other men escaped from the maximum-security unit at Bayamon Regional Jail in Bayamon.
Authorities said the inmates used spoons and their hands to dig a 100-foot tunnel, which they reinforced with wood from their beds so it wouldn't collapse. They hid the dirt in their pants and sneaked it into the prison courtyard.
Authorities were not sure how long it took the prisoners to dig the tunnel. Eight were quickly captured; Sanchez and inmate Melvin Melendez Melendez disappeared. Melendez has not been found.
Sanchez had been living in Waterbury since at least 1998, when he was arrested on a drug charge, according to Sgt. Christopher Corbett (search). He had a valid driver's license under the name Jose Melendez.
Sanchez was arrested again on drug charges in 2001 and police submitted his fingerprints to the FBI. A few weeks ago, Rafael Escobar (search), a deputy U.S. marshal in Puerto Rico, realized no one there had given Sanchez's fingerprints to the FBI.
After Escobar submitted the fingerprints, analysts made the match. U.S. marshals and city detectives arrested Sanchez at his apartment early Wednesday.
"He's been on the run since 1994," Escobar told the Republican-American of Waterbury for Thursday's editions. "I'm sure he thought that he would never be caught again."
He was to appear in court Thursday.