Sex Offender Escapes Prison; Windsor Facility Has Minimum Security

Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Windsor — State and local police canvassed parts of rural Windsor for nearly eight hours on Monday before apprehending a 23-year-old sex offender who escaped from Southeast State Correctional Facility earlier that morning.

State Police Capt. Ray Keefe said Anthony Fitzgerald — who has ties to the Rutland area — was working a groundskeeping detail at the prison when he used a pair of “clippers” to breach the fence that lines the perimeter of the 

Authorities located Fitzgerald on Thrasher Road near Route 5 in Weathersfield around 5 p.m. Monday evening after two people in a nearby field spotted him and called 911, Keefe 

“(The) passer-by had seen the release and saw him changing his shirt,” Keefe said. “We had troopers in the area that then made a positive ID.”

Police transported Fitzgerald to Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt., following his arrest. The Windsor facility houses “low risk” inmates, Keefe said, while the Springfield prison offers more 

Though police completed their investigation Monday evening, Keefe said, the Department of Corrections likely will do an internal review to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

Around noon on Monday, police convened at the Windsor facility, where authorities examined a portion of the fence, which is several feet high with three coils of barbed wire at the top.

After debriefing, several officers left the facility and began searching a portion of County Road with a K-9 Unit.

Tracks eventually led police to the area of Interstate 91, Keefe said.

According to a State Police news release, Fitzgerald was incarcerated for “lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.”

“There was never any danger to the children,” said Windsor Schools Principal Bridget Fariel.

Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union Superintendent David Baker said that out of precaution, the supervisory union went into “shelter mode” around 9:30 a.m. Monday. The step taken was less severe than a school lockdown.

The academic day proceeded on as it normally would, though students were not allowed outside for any reason, Baker said in an email to the Valley News.

“As the day progressed, we were told that the prisoner had not been captured and that the threat had been raised to a medium level,” Baker said. “We then prepared an ‘alert now’ for all parents (our system of notifying our parents and guardians). Our message by phone to all parents in our supervisory union indicated the nature of the threat (in general terms) and also indicated that we were doing a closed dismissal.”

Parents and guardians lined up in front of the elementary and middle/high school entrances in Windsor around 2:30 p.m. to pick up students, part of the ‘closed dismissal’ process. Students who rode the bus home Monday had to have a parent or guardian meet them at the bus stop, or they were brought back to the school.

Several parents outside the school building on Monday said they felt the supervisory union handled the situation in a responsible and safe manner.

“It might take a while, but I think they are doing the right thing,” Mike Frazer, of Weathersfield, said while waiting to pick up one of his children outside the middle/high school’s entrance on 

Windsor resident Trisha Waters concurred.

“I think this is great. It shows the parents that they really do care and that they are keeping the kids safe,” Waters, the mother of a kindergartner, said while standing in a line of parents and guardians that wrapped around the front of the elementary school.

Though some adults said they weren’t nervous when they were alerted to the situation, others felt differently. Some found out first through the school’s notification system, while others caught wind via Facebook.

“I know the kids are safe, but what happens when they go home?” asked Windsor resident Amy Ducharme.

A few students exiting the school yard said the mood inside the school remained calm all 

“We just kept going like a normal class day; we just couldn’t be wandering the hall and we didn’t have an open campus,” said senior Emma Saucier. “It wasn’t like anything scary. They made it super normal.”

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at or 603-727-3248.

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