By Christina Calloway and Eric Norwood
PNT staff writers
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Like most people who get surprised by late night visitors, Amanda Bonilla was suspicious why her cousin’s ex-boyfriend and his friend were knocking at her door around 1 a.m. Saturday.
Nothing about their appearance or actions suggested Abran Baeza, 22, of Portales, and Noel Webb, 32, of Tucumcari, had just escaped from the Roosevelt County jail, she said. And despite the unusual hour, Bonilla said the three listened to music and talked about tattoos for hours.
“Obviously if they were in orange jumpsuits I wouldn’t have let them in,” Bonilla, 29, said.
It was when she got a thundering knock at the door around 4 a.m. that it became clear the two were using her to hide.
Police, guns drawn and lights piercing her home, surrounded the house on North Avenue M Place and arrested the two fugitives.
They were part of a trio that escaped the jail Friday night with another inmate.
Robert Claudio, 31, of Portales, remains at-large, according to police. Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker said it was believed Claudio fled the area and may be headed to Colorado.
The escape was the second in three months and police said the trio — much like the last pair of inmates who escaped June 21— used a metal bunk bed leg to punch a hole through the jail’s ceiling and gain access to the roof. Once on the roof, the men made it to the ground, shed their orange jail jumpsuits and fled on foot, according to the jail’s Administrator Dave Casanova.
Asked how someone could pound through the ceiling and roof without being heard by jail staff, Casanova said, “Nothing has been told to me about the noise, if it could be or could not be heard. We are still looking into that…”
Roosevelt County Manager Charlene Webb said the roof was repaired after the first breakout in June and that Friday’s incident did not occur in the same area.
“We fixed the repairs on the inside and we had the same contractor come and repair it from the outside-in,” Charlene Webb said.
Casanova said since the first breakout, security has been heightened by increasing the numbers of walk-throughs, perimeter and roof checks done by jail staff.
However, Casanova and Webb said they knew repairs would not be enough and proposed installing razor wire on the roof and perimeter of the entire jail. Their proposal was offered at each of the last two Roosevelt County Commission meetings. Both times Commissioners failed to act on the request, citing cost concerns.
The estimated price was $265,000.
“We will probably reconsider and look at more options to secure the roof and do something in some phases,” County Commission Chair Bill Cathey said Saturday. “We’re just trying to look at some cheaper routes because it’s so expensive from the proposal we got.”
Webb said the push for the security will be stronger at Tuesday’s Commission meeting and it stands as the county
administration’s priority recommendation to end problems at the jail.
Hooker said arrest warrants were issued for all three escapees that included escape from jail, conspiracy to escape and possession of a deadly weapon by a prisoner. The warrants were signed by District Judge Donna Mowrer and each carries a bond of $100,000.00 cash only.
Baeza was being held on charges of battery upon a household member, two counts of trafficking controlled substances, resisting, evading, or obstructing an officer, larceny, interference with communications, failure to appear, and probation and parole violations.
Webb was being held on charges of criminal damage to property and a hold, for unknown charges, out of Quay County.
Claudio was being held on charges of aggravated battery and probation violation.
“I feel taken advantage of,” Bonilla said. “I don’t know why (Baeza) came to my house. He used to date my cousin but that’s it.”
Bonilla said the pair did not tell her their whereabouts prior to arriving at her front door about four hours after they escaped .
Bonilla gave officers permission to search her home and her cell phone was confiscated because she let Webb use it. Bonilla said she knew Baeza was in jail related to drug trafficking charges but assumed he had bonded out and she hadn’t spoken to him in months.