Convicted killer who escaped from prison found hiding in Saanich barn
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, September 4, 2018 10:07AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 4, 2018 6:23PM PDT
An inmate who walked away from a minimum-security prison while serving time for a firebombing that killed two children in Calgary is being sent to a more secure facility after his arrest Tuesday in a rural area near Victoria, says an assistant warden.
Saanich police said Michael Sheets was arrested Tuesday and will be transferred to the custody of the Correctional Service of Canada.
Sheets escaped Saturday from the Mission Institution where he was serving a sentence of more than 14 years for manslaughter and arson after a firebombing that killed a six-year-old boy and his four-year-old sister in 2004.
Sheets, 48, was found hiding in an outbuilding in an agricultural area and was arrested without incident, police said in a statement.
Rhonda Cochrane, an assistant warden at the Mission Institution, said an investigation is underway into the escape.
Cochrane said inmates undergo risk assessments before being placed in a correctional facility.
“Every time an offender cascades from maximum to medium and from medium to minimum, a thorough review is done,” she said. “(Sheets) was assessed as being suitable for minimum security.”
Cochrane, who described a minimum-security facility as one without gates or barbed wire, said Sheets will not return to the Mission Institution, which has 161 male inmates.
“He will be going to a medium-security level,” she said. “The medium has the barbed wire like a traditional jail.”
A spokeswoman for a victims of crime organization said prison escapes are rare but they can be stressful for crime victims and their loved ones.
“Some will feel overwhelming fear, anxiety and anger,” Heidi Illingworth, executive director of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime, said in an email statement.
Illingworth questioned the review process for prisoners who are moved to less secure prisons.
“Sometimes, perhaps the system cascades offenders down the prison levels too quickly,” she said.
Correctional Service Canada said in a statement that “ensuring the safety and security of institutions, staff, and public remains the highest priority in the operations of the federal correctional system.”
A search continued Tuesday for a second inmate from the Mission Institution. John Mackenzie was serving a life sentence for second-degree murder when he did not appear for a head count on Aug. 7.
Correctional Service Canada isn't commenting (saying it's an active investigation) on how exactly Sheets escaped from Mission Institution or how he got to Vancouver Island. @CTVNewsVI— Yvonne Raymond (@CTVNewsYvonne) September 4, 2018