By P. Solomon Banda
DENVER — A Colorado inmate who escaped from a maximum security prison and was believed to be still in the state Tuesday had three previous escapes that involved kidnappings and a shootout with police.
Douglas J. Alward, 48, fled the Sterling Correction Facility, about 100 miles northeast of Denver, on Sunday. Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said authorities were going door-to-door in towns and rural areas near Sterling in their search for him. Authorities were considering expanding the search area Tuesday as the FBI joined the search.
"We of course need the public's help to locate this very dangerous individual," said Denver FBI spokesman Dave Joly. "He planned an elaborate escape from prison. He appears to be intelligent, resourceful and motivated."
Joly declined to elaborate on how Alward escaped. Sanguinetti said prison officials were investigating whether Alward had help and aren't saying how he escaped but stressed that he could not have simply walked away because of high security.
Alward was serving a 20- to- 40-year sentence for attempted murder, assault, burglary and kidnapping. Alward is considered extremely dangerous, Sanguinetti said.
Alward was first incarcerated in 1980 for a conviction of attempted first-degree murder, assault and burglary. He escaped from Buena Vista Correctional Facility on Dec. 2, 1980, by running from a prison bus with an inner tube and jumping into the Arkansas River in southern Colorado, Sanguinetti said.
Officials caught him a short time later as he floated down the river.
About five years later, on Aug. 22, 1985, Alward escaped from the Colorado Territorial Facility. Sanguinetti said Alward broke into a storage area of kitchen and escaped from the building through a hole in the wall. He used some boards and a rope to scale a prison wall, broke into a state transportation building, stole a dump truck and crashed it through a gate.
He was caught about five weeks later in Arizona, though Sanguinetti did not immediately have details of his capture.
On July 7, 1991, Alward was at the Fremont County Jail for a court appearance when he and another inmate overpowered a guard and stole the deputy's 9 mm service weapon. Alward and the accomplice kidnapped a 19-year-old woman and released her in Colorado Springs, about 40 miles away from the courthouse, Sanguinetti said.
Alward fled the state and was spotted about a week later in Idaho, where he fired shots at a policeman and kidnapped a man in Garden City, Idaho. He was captured in Ontario, Ore., the next day following a police chase.
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Alward would have been eligible for parole in October and had worked his way to a classification considered just below minimum risk.