By THATCHER MOATS Times Argus Staff
WATERBURY - Gerald Papineau seems to have a knack for catching wayward prisoners, including one who hails from Rutland County.
The part-time Waterbury police officer chased down the two work camp inmates who escaped Wednesday morning from a work detail. Papineau is also the officer who nabbed the man who fled the Vermont State Hospital last summer, and in both cases, the individuals were caught near the train tracks in Waterbury, police said.
Papineau was on patrol Thursday at about 8:30 a.m. when he spotted Justin Cyr of Pownal and Alex Searle of Brandon, who had disappeared from the Green Mountain Cemetery off Route 2 in Montpelier the day before.
"I noticed two males walking on Stowe Street," said Papineau. "That sent a red flag to me that they could be the two guys we were looking for. I recognized one in particular as being one of the guys."
"They basically didn't look at me," Papineau continued. "They really paid attention to not looking at me, which is called a 'no look' in the world of law enforcement."
Papineau continued driving, but pulled around the block and ended up at the intersection of Stowe and Bidwell Streets. He was across the street from the two men at that point, he said, and they took off down an alleyway by the American Legion.
"They ran through the alley and took a right into the bushes and jumped a 15-foot drop to the railroad tracks, and at that point the pursuit was on," he said.
After radioing Vermont State Police, Papineau said he chased the two men on foot for about a half a mile, and yelled for them to stop. When they took a left into the woods, Papineau drew his gun.
"When they entered the bushes I couldn't see their hands, and at that point it's an officer safety issue," he said. "Once I drew my weapon, they put their hands up immediately."
State police soon arrived and took the men into custody.
Waterbury Police Chief Joby Feccia said he hadn't yet heard of any break-ins in the area, which is a concern with escaped prisoners who sometimes try to steal clothes, cars or money.
Cyr and Searle told police they simply spent the night wandering around the area, Papineau said.
Asked why they ran, one of the men told Papineau he was sick of being in jail, Papineau said.
Papineau said he was simply doing his job, but Feccia said it's the 46-year-old Papineau's fitness that allowed him to chase down the two young men Thursday.
"Gerald is in excellent shape, and I think his fitness is why they said, 'I've had enough,'" Feccia said.
Searle, 23, and Cyr, 29, were inmates at the Caledonia Community Work Camp in St. Johnsbury where they were being held for nonviolent offenses.
New charges of escaping from custody will likely be filed against Cyr and Searle, state police said.