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Escapee encouraged to surrender

by Danny Forinash

STAFF WRITER

A 20-year-old fugitive who escaped from the Industrial Home for Youth in Salem last Friday has yet to be located, according to Dallas Staples, associate director of the state Division of Juvenile Services. But several sightings of Joshua Dean Sprague have been reported.

"Basically, most of the sightings have been around the Shinnston area," said Staples. "But there is a possibility he could be in the Parkersburg area, where he is from."

According to Staples, the state Division of Corrections, the State Police and the Shinnston and Parkersburg police departments have been involved in the search.

"We have to make sure information is good and reliable when a sighting is reported," said Staples. "Only then can we make efforts to look for him in those areas."

According to Staples, Sprague escaped Friday evening when he allegedly attacked corrections officer Thomas R. Premo, of Fairmont. Premo was struck several times in the head with a fire extinguisher. He was discharged from Ruby Memorial Hospital last weekend.

Sprague was serving a three-year sentence at the home for grand larceny and fleeing an officer, said State Trooper Gregory L. Campbell of the Bridgeport detachment. That sentence was scheduled to end in December of this year.

"We encourage the young man to turn himself in," said Staples. "Although the situation is very serious, he can only help himself by doing so."

"There is also a concern for his health," Staples continued. "He takes medicine for seizures and we want to make sure he is safe."

Sprague is approximately 6-feet, 6 inches tall, weighs 240 pounds and has short sandy brown hair, according to Staples. He has an encircled "J" tattoo on his right inner ankle and a burn mark in the shape of a penny on his left hand between his index finger and thumb, Staples said.

People with information on the whereabouts of Joshua Sprague can call their local branch of the state police, the Salem Police Department at 782-1313, the Industrial Home for Youth at 782-2371 or any other law enforcement agency.

Staff writer Danny Forinash can be reached at 626-1446.

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