An escapee from the Chain O’ Lakes Department of Corrections facility near Albion suffered frostbite, and faces years more in prison, after walking away from the facility in sub-zero weather late Friday night.
Richard E. Dietel, 48, of Fort Wayne, was caught in Avilla, according to the Avilla Police Department. He apparently fled the minimum security DOC facility, located in Chain O’ Lakes State Park, at about 11:30 p.m., and walked all the way to Avilla -- more than five miles away. While he was out the temperature dipped to about five degrees below zero.
Dietel was believed to be making his way to Huntertown, with the eventually goal of reaching his girlfriend’s home in Fort Wayne. However, Dietel turned the wrong way once he reached Avilla: Huntertown is south of there, but he was walking north when located at about 2:20 a.m.
Already on the lookout for the escapee, Avilla Town Marshal Glen Wills noticed a male in the 100 block of North Main Street, dressed too lightly for the weather conditions, and took him into custody without incident.
Dietel was taken to Parkview Noble Hospital in Kendallville for treatment of frostbite. Afterward police took him to the Noble County Jail, where he was held pending transport to a more secure DOC facility. Dietel, who reportedly could have been eligible for release sometime early next year, now faces an additional five years on a Class C felony Escape charge. He was originally serving time on an Habitual Traffic Violator conviction.
The Noble County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, Albion Police, and Avilla Police assisted DOC personnel with the search and investigation.