Stories written by Jo Ciavaglia, award-winning multimedia newspaper reporter at the Bucks County Courier Times in Bucks County, a suburb of Philadelphia, Pa.
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Monday, June 16, 2014
Bensalem cop stabbing suspect had escaped before
Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2014
The 23-year-old Bensalem man accused of stabbing a police officer with a 3½-inch blade knife Tuesday was missing from a county corrections center for two days before an arrest warrant was filed.
It wasn’t the first time that suspect Matthew Miller left a prison work release program without permission either, according to court records. He also did it in 2010.
Matthew Miller is taken into custody
Miller, who faces criminal attempted homicide and related charges in Tuesday’s incident, was arraigned Wednesday before Doylestown District Judge Mark Douple on a felony escape charge. His bail was set at 10 percent of $1 million, but Miller remains incarcerated on $5 million cash bail in connection with the stabbing.
Miller entered the Bucks County prison March 25 after he was convicted of theft, authorities said. On June 5, he was transferred to the Men’s Community Corrections Center to participate in a work release program, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The prison received information around 5:45 p.m. Friday that Miller had left the center, according to the affidavit. Corrections officers checked Miller’s room and found only dirty clothes left behind, authorities said.
Officers paged Miller at the center and a subsequent search of the building and grounds turned up no sign of him. An alert was subsequently issued and he was placed on escape status, but a warrant for his arrest was not filed until Monday, according to court documents in the Bensalem stabbing case.
Bensalem police were notified shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday that an escape warrant had been issued for Miller, whose last known address was in Bensalem.
About a half hour later, an off-duty police officer told Bensalem patrol Officer Michael Jachimski, 38, he saw Miller walking on Bristol Pike near Woodhaven Road with another unidentified man. Minutes later Jachimski stopped the pair.
Miller initially gave police a false first name and birth year, police said. When Jachimski attempted to handcuff Miller, the suspect allegedly started a physical confrontation with the officer and attempted to get into his patrol car.
Miller allegedly pulled out a black Extreme Ops tactical-style folding knife and lunged toward Jachimski stabbing him, though the officer’s bulletproof vest protected him. He then allegedly stole the marked patrol car and fled to Northeast Philadelphia where he was apprehended just beyond the border with Bensalem.
During his arrest, police allege that Miller admitted to recently smoking crack cocaine, according to the affidavit.
Miller was convicted of escape in 2011 when he went missing from the community corrections center in November 2010 while on the work release program, according to online court records.
During that incident, prison officials learned that Miller was missing after a morning institutional count of inmates. Three days later, a warrant for his arrest was filed on an escape charge. Available court records do not say how long Miller was in the work release program before he walked away without permission.
Miller subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 months in Bucks County prison, but received time served.
The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching Bucks County prison Director William Plantier for comment Wednesday.
But at a county prison board meeting Wednesday, several members wanted to know why they were not notified an inmate walked away from the community correction center.
At the meeting, Plantier responded it’s not unusual for community corrections center inmates to walk away without permission, and it typically happens twice a month.
He added that the prisoners approved for the less restrictive community corrections center are non-violent offenders.