U.S. Marshals Now Lead Hunt for Convict Who Escaped into Woods in Jessup on Friday

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David Watson, via Howard County Police Department

Federal agents are now leading the search for a prisoner who escaped the custody of prison guards while being transported to a psychiatric evaluation in Jessup on Friday morning.

David M. Watson, 28, went missing Friday morning just after he arrived at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital in Howard County. According to police, two Wicomico County Detention Center officers showed up at the hospital with Watson in the back of their transport van. When they opened the back door, their prisoner pushed one of them to the ground and fled into the nearby woods.

At the scene lay Watson’s handcuffs and a waist chain that had secured him in the van. Police also found a couple pieces of Watson’s clothing in the woods nearby.

Authorities made use of bloodhounds, K-9 units and helicopters with heat-seeking technology. It was a multi-agency effort, with Howard County and Anne Arundel County police, Maryland state troopers and the U.S. Marshals all searching the wooded areas around the hospital, which sits near the Howard-Anne Arundel County line. After about 36 hours, they suspended their ground search.

Reached by phone this morning, a spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department said, “No updates yet this morning.”

Shortly afterward, the department said in a release that the U.S. Marshals have taken control of the investigation and have upped the reward for tips leading to his arrest from $5,000 to $10,000. Howard County police and state troopers will continue to assist with the search.

While the feds take the lead, Howard County police officers will visit Jessup-area businesses and hand out flyers on Monday. Merchants will be asked to check their properties, vehicles and surveillance footage to see if Watson may have broken in or been nearby, police said.

Some noteworthy facts about Watson: He’s serving a 106-year sentence on an attempted murder conviction in Delaware for shooting at a cop’s house in 2012, and has been charged with similar offenses in Wicomico County in Maryland; he has the words “evil” and “sin” tattooed on his neck and hand, as well as face tattoos and others on his body; and he’s white, standing about 5’8” tall and weighing around 140 pounds. Also, according to pictures, he sometimes wears glasses.

Here’s another shot of him:

If Watson is armed, it’s not with one of the correctional officers’ weapons. Police say they confirmed both CO’s had the guns stashed away in lockboxes when he escaped.

Watson has ties to Wicomico County and Delaware, police said.

If you spot him or have info, police say to call 911.

This story has been updated.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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