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Prisoner scales fence to escape Oregon jail

By Courtney Sherwood

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - A man awaiting trial for theft managed to escape an Oregon jail after he was let outside as part of a work crew, fled across the jail parking lot and jumped a fence in the latest in a string of Oregon prisoner escapes, authorities said on Monday.

Keith Allen Schmidtke, 38, made his escape on Sunday and was still on the loose on Monday morning. He had been awaiting trial on theft, identity theft and other charges at the Deschutes County Adult Jail in central Oregon.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and local police brought in dogs to assist their search of residential areas near the jail but had so far been unsuccessful at tracking down Schmidtke, said Sergeant Vance Lawrence of the sheriff’s department.

“We are actively developing leads as we seek to locate him,” Lawrence said.

The escape, which officials said was the first from the Deschutes facility in over a decade, comes on the heels of two other breakouts that occurred in the space of a week earlier this year from two other Oregon detention centers.

In late April, convicted sex offender Matthew Joseph Medlin, 30, jumped a fence and escaped from the Columbia River Correctional Institution in Portland less than a week before his scheduled release. He was captured the same day and now awaits trial on felony escape charges.

Less than a week later, in early May, an inmate who was serving time for theft and burglary was discovered missing from the Deer Ridge facility in central Oregon. He was arrested in June after he fled Portland police officers who had asked for his identification.

(Reporting by Courtney Sherwood; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)

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