EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — It is known as “The Great Escape” 20 years ago this month two inmates one of those inmates Hugo Selenski was accused of murder broke out of the Luzerne County prison.
The eyes of the nation were focused on Luzerne County namely this prison. Selenski and Scott Bolton tied bed sheets together and scaled down five floors the escape is still talked about 20 years later.
These are images that are burned into the memories of many people who live in northeastern Pennsylvania bed sheets tied together hanging from the fifth floor of the Luzerne County prison state and local police converging on the prison.
The mastermind of the escape: Hugo Selenski who at that time was accused of murdering two men in all, five burned bodies were found buried at his property in Kingston Township the other inmate was Scott Bolton, who was in prison facing theft-related charges.
Bolton was injured in the escape and was taken to a hospital..but the search was on for Selensk. I spoke with now-retired state police lieutenant Rick Krawetz who helped lead the search.
“He was on the run. We did not know at that time whether or not he had any assistance. We did not know if he had any weapons or if he was armed in any way shape or form. Obviously, he was desperate. our concern was for all the civilians that were out there,” said Ret. Lt. Rick Krawetz.
Three days into the manhunt Selenski wanted to surrender and he wanted Krawetz to take him into custody.
“It was my understanding that because of my knowledge and association with Atty Fannick, he wanted to turn himself into me,” added Ret. Lt. Krawetz.
Attorney Demetrius Fannick represented Selenski at that time.
“Total embarrassment you could see it on their faces,” says Ret. Capt Ottensman.
Al Ottensman was a captain at the prison he says the escape led to security changes at the prison.
“They did change policies. Some security I can’t talk about, but the sheets we found out that they threatened a lot of those inmates, especially the meek ones. They cut eight and they got their sheets. So we changed having their names actually printed on some of them,” explained Capt. Ottensman.
Bob Kadluboski from Wilkes-Barre heard about the escape and helped look for the suspects in the city.
Selenski was eventually acquitted in the murders of two men found buried on his property but, was sentenced for burning their bodies In 2015.
Selenski was convicted in the murders of Michael Kerkowski and Tammy Fassett and is serving life in prison for the crimes.
Scott Bolton has been in and out of prison over the past 20 years.