Howard County Police suspend ground search for escaped prisoner

Howard County police are continuing the investigation to locate escaped prisoner David Watson, but have suspended the ground search after exhausting all search efforts in the immediate area.

Throughout the day Friday, overnight and into Saturday morning, police continued to search the area around Clifton T. Perkins hospital in Jessup with bloodhounds, K-9 units and helicopters with heat-seeking technology. There are no indications that Watson remains in the area and there have been no sightings.

The investigation remains active as officers from Howard County Police, U.S. Marshals Service and Maryland State Police continue to follow up on leads locally, and in Wicomico County, Md., and Delaware, where Watson also has ties.

Watson who was serving time for attempted murder escaped Friday morning while being transported to a psychiatric hospital in Howard County, Maryland. David M. Watson, 28, was in the custody of the Wicomico County Detention Center, and was being taken to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center on Dorsey Run Road in Jessup when he escaped custody.

Authorities say Watson was being brought to the facility for a mental evaluation. At about 9:40 a.m. Friday, when the van carrying Watson and two Wicomico County Detention Center guards pulled into the hospital parking lot, authorities say Watson managed to push the guards aside and flee into the woods near Dorsey Run Road.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, a Howard County police spokesperson said handcuffs and a waist chain were found near where Watson escaped, and some pieces of white clothing were found in the woods. Authorities said Watson was wearing all white when he escaped, but it's not clear if the clothes that were found were Watson's.

Police say there have been no sightings of Watson since he escaped. They do not believe he is armed, as the guards who were transporting him had secured their weapons inside the van before they opened the door. There is no indication as to whether the escape was planned or if it was an impulsive move by Watson.

Howard County police have released photos of the tattoos on Watson's body. He has a tattoo that says "evil" on the back of his neck, "Watson" on his right arm and several markings on his left arm and hand.

Authorities have launched a manhunt on the ground and in the air, and that effort includes several jurisdictions. Both plainclothes and uniformed officers are involved in the search. A Howard County police spokesperson said they are handling the search, but that he was in the custody of Wicomico County when he escaped.

Watson was convicted of attempted murder in Delaware, and he's currently serving over 100 years in prison for that conviction. He's also currently facing additional attempted murder charges in Wicomico County, and a Howard County spokesperson said those charges are for repeated incidents involving police officers. Watson was due to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center this morning in connection to the charges against him in Maryland, but he escaped before he ever made it inside the hospital.

Watson is described as a white male who is 5'8" tall and weighs 140 pounds. He was wearing all white clothing when he escaped, and he does have some facial tattoos. Authorities are asking anyone may have seen Watson to call 911 immediately.

Howard County police are offering a reward of up to $5,000.