An inmate spent at least three hours in ducts and ceiling crawl spaces at Multnomah County Inverness Jail in an escape attempt on Wednesday afternoon. The search for him put the jail on lockdown for hours, raising widespread speculation as to what had happened.
The 29-year-old man accessed the space above the jail's ceilings through a maintenance hatch—the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office could not say where that door was located in the jail or why the man had access to it.
Robert Thomas Arrington had been arrested by Portland police for resisting arrest and interfering with a peace officer two days ago. He also had outstanding warrants in Washington county for theft I and a probation violation.
Corrections deputies first realized Arrington had gone missing after a routine check at 1:25 p.m. They immediately placed the jail on lockdown and began a search of the building.
Around 4:30 p.m., a guard watching cameras in the jail saw Arrington descend to a ground-level space in the jail, says MCSO spokesman Sgt. Bryan White. Deputies took the man into custody again shortly after that spotting.
Arrington will face additional criminal charges related to his escape attempt, though MCSO could not immediately say what those charges will be.
WW first contacted MCSO for information on the lockdown and escaped inmate at 2:30 pm but the agency did not confirm the escape or release any information to the public about the incident until after 5:40 pm.
"Part of the standard procedure and protocol is to focus on getting a search done first," White says. "There was no evidence or reason to believe he had made it outside of the building. The last thing we wanted to do was create some undue alarm in the community that somebody had escaped outside of the property when we had no evidence to support that."