New Jersey

Schools Resume in South Jersey as Search Goes on for Escaped Convict Arthur Buckel

As the search for an inmate who escaped from a minimum security prison weeks before he was due for parole continued, police advised all Barnegat Township residents to stay inside their homes and keep their doors locked. Police also said a helicopter would be in the air during the search.

Schools that were locked down as authorities searched for Arthur Buckel will open Thursday with an increased police presence.

Corrections Department spokesman Matt Schuman said 38-year-old Arthur Buckel was missing when guards at the Ancora unit of Bayside State Prison in Winslow Township performed a count Tuesday morning. [[378189371, C]]

Buckel, whose last known address was in Clifton, had been serving a sentence for aggravated assault. He was scheduled to be paroled later this month.

Barnegat Township Police sent out a Nixle alert Wednesday that all schools in town were on lockdown "however there is not threat to schools." The Surf City Police Department also put out an alert that LBI Schools, including EJ School, were put into a "shelter in place" as a precaution with "no immediate danger" to anyone. Wednesday night Barnegat Township Police announced all schools in the district would be open Thursday. They also said police officers would be present at each of the district schools during the entire day. [[378223601, C]]

The lockdowns in the Ocean County Township came as local and state police could be seen searching for escapee Arthur Buckel in the area.

Barnegat Police posted surveillance photos of Buckel at the Barnegat CVS on West Bay Avenue Wednesday morning. They also found a stolen Chevy Silverado pickup truck it is believed he took from Hammonton, New Jersey. [[378190031, C]]

Buckel -- who stands 5-foot, 9-inches tall and weighs around 180 pounds -- worked as a janitor in the prison. He has tattoos under his left eye and on his wrist.

On Tuesday, Winslow Township Police sent out a Nixle alert about the escapee and asked anyone who spots Buckel to immediately call 911. Residents were advised to avoid approaching Buckel.

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Buckel was also convicted of aggravated manslaughter in the death of a 10-month-old girl in 1996, according to NJ.com. Buckel, who was 18 at the time, admitted to slapping the girl, who died from skull fractures.

Corrections Department records show that he was in prison from 1996 to 2010 for the killing, NJ.com reports.

It's the second such escape from Bayside State Prison's Ancora unit in six months. In October, Panagioti Souris busted out of the prison and traveled to Philadelphia where he surrendered to authorities without a struggle in Old City. 

His escape has people in multiple Garden state communities on alert.

"I locked all my doors, I put my alarm on, I'm looking out every window, waiting to know if somebody's going too knock on my door, if somebody's going to break in my window," said Hammonton's Becky Kravitz.

Schuman said Buckel could face an addition 3 to 5 years in prison for escaping once he's recaptured.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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