Escapee Lionel Clah says he had fun while on the run

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The second escaped prison inmate has been captured in Albuquerque.

Back in cuffs and on his way to a cell Saturday, Lionel Clah seemed to have few regrets about his run for freedom.

“It’s been ten years in prison, I wanted to get out,” Clah told reporters.

Clah later said he had fun while he was on the run and that it was all worth it.

He and Joseph Cruz escaped from a prisoner transport van headed to Las Cruces Wednesday. Officials think the men got away in the Artesia area when the van stopped for gas. Just hours later they were caught on camera at an Albuquerque hotel. That sparked a manhunt that shut down parts of the city in recent days. Many residents say they lost sleep over it.

“It’s just a little scary to know that somebody who was wanted, on the loose and stuff like that was so close. I mean, the past couple of days I’ve been kinda on edge, you know,” said Northeast Heights Resident Stacey Garcia.

Joseph Cruz had been serving a life sentence for murder. Clah got a 30 year sentence for armed robbery, and a shooting, that injured a deputy.

Cruz was caught Friday in the UNM area. Clah was still on the run until Saturday morning, when a woman living near Morris and Montgomery called police.

“She returned home after a couple nights of being away and she believed someone was inside of her apartment,” said Albuquerque Police Department Spokesperson Officer Simon Drobik.

It was Clah.

Drobik said, “Mr. Clah literally stepped out the front door and came out and surrendered. He did state to us he didn’t want anybody else to get hurt.”

Residents say it’s a relief to hear they’re both back behind bars. Now they want answers as to how this happened in the first place.

“You kinda wonder, but who knows the circumstances, but yeah, you really wonder how that could possibly happen,” said a Northeast Heights resident, Bud Tuttle.

“It would be good to say that yes, we’ve made changes to policies or we’re increasing our procedures or something, to help that this would not happen again,” said another nearby resident, Sarah Erb.

Investigators are still trying to figure out if anyone helped these men during their escape. They’re interviewing their family, friends and even Corrections Department employees.

Officials say the woman who lives in the apartment Clah was found at does know him but won’t say how. But they say if she willingly helped him, she will be arrested.

Background on the case here »

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