MECHANICSBURG – Staling J. Santos-Reyes was still evading authorities as of press time Friday at 10 p.m. after escaping from the Tri-County Regional Jail at 5:36 p.m. on Thursday. His whereabouts are unknown.
A nationwide escape warrant has been issued for Santos-Reyes, who is 5-foot-6, 140 pounds.
Law enforcement, including members of the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, immediately began searching for Santos-Reyes on Thursday. He escaped while being escorted by jail staff as he took out the trash. Santos-Reyes reportedly climbed a fence and fled on foot from the facility. He was in custody at Tri-County Regional Jail with bond set at $300,000.
The area in the search for Santos-Reyes, 40, of Bronx, New York, included a large portion of the eastern part of Champaign County, and Mechanicsburg residents were being advised to stay indoors in the immediate aftermath of his escape. Residents within a three-mile radius of the jail were notified of the escape by an emergency calling system on Thursday.
In February, Santos-Reyes was apprehended by the Ohio State Highway Patrol in Madison County with a massive amount of heroin and may have been a drug mule, transporting the drug from California to New York in exchange for $7,500.
He was later arraigned on one count of possession of drugs, a first-degree felony, and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony, in Madison County Common Pleas Court.
If found guilty, Santos-Reyes faces up to 12 years in prison for the crimes.
Tri-County Regional Jail houses inmates from Champaign, Madison and Union counties as a shared incarceration facility between the three local governments.
Some residents of Mechanicsburg have expressed concerns over the years about released inmates seeking rides and other assistance after being freed from custody, but this incident hits close to home for residents of a high-density apartment complex located right next door on the hill.
“I’m not that worried about living close to the jail. I feel like if somebody’s going to escape they’re going to want to run further than this,” said Devin Dutcher, a resident of Pleasant View Apartments – which overlooks the fenced-in jail yard. “I don’t think they would run this close. If I saw somebody, it would freak me out. But it’s pretty locked down.”
According to Tri-County Regional Jail Director Scott Springhetti, it was the first time an inmate has escaped since it opened in 2000.
Springhetti noted that jail officials will review what led to the escape to determine what steps need to be taken to avoid another one.
Brenda Burns can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 937-508-2301.