CLINTON — An unlocked rear window in a police cruiser allowed a 19-year-old man with a lengthy criminal record to escape custody Tuesday night, and it isn’t the first time he has eluded the law.

Timothy James Ezell, 19, of 15 Diamond Ave., Clinton, was still at large Wednesday, Chief Craig Johnson said.

Ezell was arrested about 7 p.m. Tuesday shortly after a witness reported that Ezell had burglarized a car on Long Avenue, Johnson said. After the arrest, two Clinton police officers took Ezell to the Winslow police station for processing and, while the officers were inside, Ezell escaped by opening a rear window of the 2011 Crown Victoria where he was detained.

Johnson said the window controls in the cruiser were operable at the time of Ezell’s escape.

“Normally in a cruiser, the back windows and door handles are disengaged; but unfortunately, our windows were still engaged,” he said. “I don’t have any answers as to why the windows were still engaged.”

Ezell was handcuffed at the time of the escape but may have been able to slip out of the cuffs, Johnson said.

“He’s a skinny fellow, so I would suspect he’s quite wiry,” he said.

Johnson, who was on vacation at the time of the escape, canceled his remaining vacation plans to assist in the case, which is being handled jointly by Clinton police and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. Johnson said Wednesday afternoon he would meet with Winslow police later in the day to get more information about the escape.

According to a news release from the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, Ezell has a criminal record, but he is not known to be violent and shouldn’t be cause for public “alarm or concern.”

Officers from Clinton, Waterville and Winslow began the search for Ezell shortly after his escaped was discovered and they were joined by a K-9 search team from the sheriff’s office about a half hour later.

For more than three hours, police searched through thick vegetation along the Kennebec River, fields and roads. The dog-tracker team lost the suspect’s scent at a cornfield, the release states.

“Due to (a) 28-minute time delay, poor intelligence given (to) the K-9 handler, and the dog’s exhaustion, the scent was eventually lost,” the release states.

This was the second time Ezell dramatically eluded police.

On Sept. 30, Ezell was arrested after he stole a car, drove it while drunk, crashed, tried to steal another car and then dropped 30 feet from a bridge into the Kennebec River while fleeing from police, according to previous reports.

In that incident, Ezell was hiding from police under the Route 139 bridge that spans the Kennebec River from Fairfield to Benton when police shined a spotlight on him. He dropped about 30 feet into the water and tried to swim away, but he was arrested when he reached the riverbank.

Ezell pleaded guilty in January on charges of burglary of a motor vehicle, theft by unauthorized taking, refusing to submit to arrest and two counts of unauthorized use of property stemming from the incident. A clerk at Kennebec County Superior Court wouldn’t disclose sentencing information over the phone when contacted by a reporter.

Ezell has other convictions, according to previous reports. From an earlier incident in September, he was convicted on an assault charge, fined $300 and sentenced to 30 days in jail. From two separate incidents in April 2011, Ezell was sentenced to 30 days in jail for theft by unauthorized taking or transfer and fined $200 for theft by unauthorized use of property and criminal mischief.

Before escaping Tuesday, Ezell was arrested on charges of burglary of a motor vehicle, violating conditions of release and being a minor consuming liquor, according to police dispatch logs.

Police asked that any information about Ezell’s location be directed to the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office or the Clinton Police Department by calling the Augusta Regional Communications Center at 624-7076.

Johnson said anyone who knowingly harbors Ezell will face charges.

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