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May 04, 2016

Manhunt on for inmate who escaped South Jersey prison

Authorities say Arthur Buckel was spotted Wednesday with a stolen vehicle in Barnegat

Escape Inmates
Arthur Buckel New Jersey Department of Corrections/Source

Arthur Buckel.

Multiple law enforcement agencies are on a coordinated manhunt for an inmate who escaped Tuesday morning from South Jersey's Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Camden County.

On Tuesday, Winslow Township police said on Facebook that Arthur Buckel, 38, of Clifton, left the Bayside State Prison unit and had last been seen around 4:10 a.m. The escape signaled alarm among residents in South Jersey and prompted an escalation of the search on Wednesday. 

At around 10:17 a.m., the Barnegat Police Department reported a stolen vehicle from Hammonton at the CVS Drugstore on West Bay Avenue. Based on stills from a CVS security camera, authorities believe the suspect driving the vehicle, a white 2015 Chevy Silverado, is Arthur Buckle. 

Source/Barnegat Police Department

Authorities believe security camera shows Arthur Buckel entering the CVS Drugstore on West Bay Ave. around mid-morning on Wednesday.

Out of precaution, all Barnegat schools were put on lockdown and agencies were called in from the Ocean County Sheriffs Department, New Jersey Department of Corrections Fugitive Task Force, Ocean County Special Operations Group, Ocean County SWAT Team, New Jersey State Police, Ocean Township Police Department, and Stafford Township Police. More than 100 officers are assisting with area searches, patrols, and K-9 Tracks along the Garden State Parkway and other areas of town.

By Thursday, officials with the Barnegat Police Department said that they had received information indicating that Buckel was no longer in their township. Local officers maintained a strong presence, however, and will maintain patrols at schools through Friday. 

"Safety and security of all our residents is paramount, but most assuredly, our school children," said Barnegat Mayor John J. Novak during a Thursday morning press conference. "Life in Barnegat for businesses, family and schools will continue, as well as the law enforcement mission to capture Buckel."

Buckel was in jail for aggravated assault, burglary and drug possession, according to prison records. Previously, in 1996, Buckel was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the aggravated manslaughter of a 10-month-old child in Hudson County. He was eligible for parole on May 21.

RELATED ARTICLE: AP Exclusive: Dozens escaped from Washington mental hospital since 2013

Buckel is described as a white man with brown hair and blue eyes who is 5 feet 9 inches tall and 180 pounds. He has a small tattoo under his left eye and a goatee.

Residents have been reminded to keep their doors locked and vehicles secured. If Buckel is spotted, or if any suspicious activity is observed, police ask that residents call 911 immediately.

PhillyVoice staff writer Michael Tanenbaum contributed to this report.