Nov 17, 2009 1:03 PM by Kate Mundy
A 17-year old escapee from a juvenile facility in Branch is now facing felony charges. Deonta Ware ran away from AMI Kids on Saturday.
This is the fourth escape since AMI Kids opened the facility in Branch in 2008.
AMI Kids Regional Director Greg Kleinpeter said Ware slipped out an unsecured door, after telling authorities that he was going to get some paper to write a letter. Instead, he hopped over a fence.
"We're disappointed that we stressed the community by this happening, we're working towards it not happening again," said Kleinpeter.
It didn't take long for the escaped teen to find transportation. He's accused of stealing a truck from a hay farm off J.E. Pelton Road in Branch. Sandra Guidry said her husband had left a sawed-off key in the ignition. "He left to go and get something to eat and came back and saw the tire tracks and it was gone," said Guidry.
Eventually the 1993 Ford F-250 was abandoned in the parking lot of Living Word Ministries at 717 W. Grolee Street Opelousas.
Opelousas Police arrested Ware in an abandoned home at 926 S. Washington Street Monday morning, after receiving a tip. He's charged with unauthorized entry.
Monday morning, Kleinpeter drove from Baton Rouge to meet with the Branch AMI Kids staff, trying to get to the bottom of what went wrong on Saturday. He says they talked about what they can do different operationally, but no decisions were made.
Meanwhile neighbors are demanding a fence be constructed, that troubled teens can't climb over. But Kleinpeter is quick to point out that they don't run a jail. "We're an alternative school, we're a boarding school and we are licensed as a group home, not as a secure facility," he said.
Guidry worries that neighbors will now have to arm themselves. "It's going to escalate, it will and someone's gonna be hurt, either a family or one of these kids," said Guidry.
Ware was picked up Monday from the Opelousas Jail, where he's facing a charge of unauthorized entry. He's now in the Acadia Parish jail facing a felony charge of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
His bond is set at $25,000.