'Improvements can be made': Vancouver Island prison escape probe to address concerns
James Lee Busch (left) and Zachary Armitage (right) escaped from the minimum-security William Head Institution in Metchosin on July 7, 2019. (Correctional Service of Canada)
Two men who escaped from a Vancouver Island prison and remained on the loose for two days last month have been moved to a more secure facility while investigators continue to probe their flight.
James Lee Busch, 42, and Zachary Armitage 30, escaped from the minimum-security William Head Institution in Metchosin on July 7 and evaded police until the two men unwittingly struck up a conversation with an off-duty Mountie in Esquimalt, and were subsequently apprehended.
The two men have violent criminal pasts, with Armitage serving nearly 14 years for robbery and aggravated assault, and Busch serving a life sentence for killing a Saskatoon woman over a $20 piece of crack cocaine and stuffing her body in a dumpster.
Busch is also serving time for assault and sexual assault.
On Friday, Correctional Services Canada told CTV News the two offenders are no longer in a minimum-security prison and the official investigation into their escape is ongoing.
"The circumstances involving the escape are still under investigation and the team conducting it is on site," said CSC spokesperson Lucinda Fraser.
"We recognize that improvements can be made and the investigation will guide those."
Those improvements, Fraser said, will include a review of how quickly communities near prisons are alerted when an escape occurs.
"We are closely examining our procedures and protocols for when public safety partners and the community are notified to address concerns," she said.
Those concerns in this case include complaints that the community wasn't notified of the escape until the following day when CSC tweeted about it.
Two days after the men were finally apprehended, a Metchosin man was found murdered in his home and his missing vehicle was found in Oak Bay. According to family, Martin Payne, 60, was killed on July 8, fuelling speculation among residents that the escapees may have been involved.
Police have since said they have identified "persons of interest" in the murder of Martin Payne, 60, and that the public is not at risk, though no arrests have been announced and police have repeatedly declined to comment on any possible connection between Payne's death and the escaped convicts.