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Three inmates escape from New Richmond correctional center; New Richmond schools closed

NEW RICHMOND, WI - New Richmond Schools are closed Thursday following an escape by three inmates from the St. Croix County Correctional Center in New Richmond at about 10:15 Wednesday night. The inmates are still at large, but New Richmond Police...

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Pictured from left to right: Jesse Jamal Fairley, Andre Lee Vance, and Kyle John Peterson. (Forum News Service photo)

NEW RICHMOND, WI - New Richmond Schools are closed Thursday following an escape by three inmates from the St. Croix County Correctional Center in New Richmond at about 10:15 Wednesday night. The inmates are still at large, but New Richmond Police Chief Mark Samelstad said Thursday morning that he doesn't believe there is a threat to the community.

"There's no reason for people to be afraid," Samelstad said. "They can go about their lives as they normally do. Just be aware and if they see anything they think is suspicious, contact St. Croix County dispatch."

Samelstad identified the escapees as:

-- Jesse Jamal Fairley, 25, a 5-8 black male with black hair
-- Andre Lee Vance, 20, a 6-4 black male with brown hair and brown eyes
-- Kyle John Peterson, 19, a 5-10 white male with blonde hair and blue eyes

"The inmates at the St. Croix Correctional Center are not the typical high-risk inmates," Samelstad said. "One of them is in there on drug charges and the other two I think on burglary charges."

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Samelstad did not have information on events that led to the escape or where the men may be trying to go, but he stressed that he didn't believe the community was in any danger.

Through the night, area public safety agencies used a variety of resources during the manhunt, including the use of K-9s and aircraft, according to Samelstad.

"In the 14 years that I've been here, this is probably the second time we've had an escape from the correctional center," Samelstad said.

The St. Croix Correctional Center began in 1978 as a 20-bed facility housed in a modular structure. In 1991, the facility established the Challenge Incarceration Program (CIP) with 18 beds. The current maximum population of the facility is 132.

The 180-day CIP is a boot-camp-like program designed to teach discipline and instill useful skills in inmates to help make them productive members of society. According to the program’s mission statement, the CIP provides “inmates the opportunity to gain the personal resources needed to return to the community, to successfully complete extended supervision and to remain crime and drug free.”

School delayed, then closed

At 7:30 a.m., New Richmond school administrator Jeff Moberg sent out a district-wide phone message that school is cancelled for Thursday, May 7, because of the escape. He instructed district residents to check their email and the school district website for more updates on the situation.

A phone call was sent to New Richmond homes at 3 a.m. from St. Croix County dispatch, announcing the escape. At 6 a.m., Moberg sent a phone call to district residents, announcing that schools would be opening two hours late in New Richmond. He said a decision will be made in that two-hour period on whether to hold the remainder of the school day.

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According to the dispatch phone call, New Richmond was under lockdown. All residents were encouraged ensure all doors, windows and cars were locked.

The phone message said that if the inmates are seen, do not apprehend and do not confront. If they are seen, immediately call 911. They are wearing gray gym shorts, white long-sleeved shirts and tennis shoes.

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By Michael Foley, Forum News Service. Dave Newman contributed to this report.

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