A massive manhunt is underway in New Jersey for an escaped convict who once served time for killing a crying, 10-month-old baby, police said.
Officers were guarding schools in the western coastal town of Barnegat on Thursday as law enforcement agencies in the area searched for 38-year-old Arthur Buckel, who escaped the minimum-security Bayside State Prison in Hammonton, about 50 miles southwest of Barnegat, on Tuesday.
He was spotted on surveillance video inside a CVS store on Wednesday, one day after he was reported missing from a prison count, police said.
State police escorted all school buses Thursday afternoon.
“We have to go forward as if he were still in Barnegat,” Mayor John Novak said at a press conference. “However, let’s be realistic … considering the law enforcement presence, if you were Mr. Buckel, the only thing I would want between Barnegat and myself is distance.”
Later in the day, authorities said they had received information from state prison officials that Buckel was no longer in the Barnegat area, but Barnegat police will continue to guard schools on Friday out of an "abundance of caution," city authorities said.
Buckel was currently in prison for aggravated assault, burglary and drug possession. He had a scheduled parole hearing later this month.
He served 14 years behind bars for aggravated manslaughter after acknowledging he repeatedly struck the 10-month-old daughter of his girlfriend, killing the baby. He said he hit the child because she would not stop crying, authorities said.
He was released in 2010.
Barnegat residents were told to lock their doors and to contact officers if they spot a man matching Buckel’s description.