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Task force sheriff deputies capture OCCC escapee

By Leila Fujimori

LAST UPDATED: 10:05 p.m. HST, Jun 18, 2014

A Punchbowl-area homeowner discovered an orange-haired man with a painted black face in his laundry room Wednesday afternoon and yelled at the man to get out.

The yelling alerted deputy sheriffs and deputy U.S. marshals, already combing the area for Oahu Community Correctional Center escapee Daniel Skelton, 23, which led to his capture 59 hours after he made his break.

Lt. Koa Dobrowolsky, head of special operations in the Sheriff Division, said Skelton had "painted his face with black material -- looks like black makeup -- and darkened the color of his skin ... to blend into the shadows."

Skelton was apprehended at 4:05 p.m. in the vicinity of 1623 Leilehua Lane, a small cul-de-sac close to the Chevron gas station on South School Street, Dobrowolsky said.

"It went down real easy," he said.

Sheriffs booked Skelton on first-degree

escape charges, said Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz.

Skelton, a convicted thief, was caught Wednesday morning on a surveillance camera at the Pali Longs Drugs in Nuuanu wearing

a jacket, tank top and shorts and carrying an armful of items.

The 5-foot-10 man had cut his long, black hair and dyed it orange. He also changed clothes after "shopping" at Longs.

Residents in the Punchbowl area were puzzled by the sight of Skelton.

Kayla Keehu, 26, said she heard noises on the lanai of her second-story apartment on Leilehua Lane.

When she went out, she found a man wearing a woman's dress and exposed from the waist down, and thought he may have been homeless.

But with the black painted face, she thought he may have been a burglar.

"The orange hair kind of tipped me off that this was the guy," she said.

Keehu said he then asked to use the bathroom.

When she said no, he jumped over the railing and down into the neighbor's backyard, where he was caught.

"He seemed a little scared and uneasy," she said.

"I was only scared when I connected the dots and talked to police," she said.

She had seen online that the escapee had been at the Pali Longs, only a few blocks away.

"Oh my God, this guy's in the area," she thought to herself.

Keehu ran down to her landlord's apartment and called 911.

"The hair was the biggest giveaway," she said.

Tyson DeCambra, 27, who lives in a School Street house behind Keehu, said he found Skelton rummaging through the clothes in his laundryroom.

"He was just trying to find socks," he said. "That's what he said."

"I asked him how come his face was painted," DeCambra said. "He said, 'I been in some stuff.'"

Then he asked DeCambra, "Can you give me a minute?"

"I gave him his minute," he said, and Skelton left.

"I didn't know who he was," DeCambra said until he went inside and his girlfriend told him about the escapee.

DeCambra said he didn't call police, but heard other neighbors talking with police and told them what he saw.

Skelton was spotted earlier Wednesday morning running between homes in Nuuanu around the School Street area.

Roughly 60 deputy sheriffs and deputy marshals, all part of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, along with police, began searching the Nuuanu area at about 9 a.m., where Skelton had been seen, Dobrowolsky said. "We locked down the area and flushed the escapee out."

Public Safety issued an alert just before 10:30 a.m.

At 2:30 p.m., "we pulled everybody in, flooding the same area," referring to deputy sheriffs, marshals and agents from numerous federal agencies, Dobrowolsky said.

"We assumed the escapee would try and get mobile again," he said.

Upon hearing the yelling from the homeowner, a deputy marshal spotted Skelton, "gave a small pursuit, boxed him into an alley" and detained him, and deputy sheriffs arrested him, Dobrowolsky said.

He was found wearing jeans, a T-shirt and basketball shoes, likely stolen from a laundry room or a clothesline, Dobrowolsky said.

Skelton escaped shortly after 5 a.m. Monday through a hole in a medium-security bathroom, heading into a crawl space, onto

a roof and through a 16-foot fence.

He was arrested June 4 for parole violation and was being held at OCCC unable to post $20,000 bail.

Still at large is Alan Abihai, who failed to return June 10 from a work furlough.

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