In the end, Oscar Alvarado, the murder suspect who escaped from Philadelphia's newest and largest prison on Thanksgiving, did not get very far. He was nabbed around 3 p.m. yesterday at a hotel in Lower Bucks County.
Investigators visited several hotels just outside Philadelphia after "developing information" that Alvarado might have been hiding there, said acting U.S. Marshal John Patrignani. Showing Alvarado's picture, they learned that he was staying at the Neshaminy Motor Inn, on Old Lincoln Highway in Trevose.
Alvarado, 27, was arrested there without incident, Patrignani said. Another man and two women in the room with Alvarado also were taken into custody.
All four were taken to Northeast Detectives to be interviewed last night. The three alleged accomplices had not been charged early last night, but Police Capt. John McGinnis said they would face charges of aiding and abetting and obstruction.
Alvarado had been missing since he walked out of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road in Northeast Philadelphia more than 21/2 weeks ago.
Patrignani declined to say how members of the U.S. Marshal's Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force learned of Alvarado's possible location.
The task force is from the Marshal's Office, Philadelphia and state police, and other agencies.
"Those guys did a great job on this," Patrignani said.
Alvarado, who had been jailed since October 2008, was awaiting trial in the slaying of a Kensington woman.
He was the first person to escape from Curran-Fromhold, built on State Road in Holmesburg in 1995.
On Thanksgiving, he obtained an unauthorized pass to the visitors' room, though he did not have any visitors that day, authorities said.
Somehow, Alvarado changed into civilian clothes and walked out of the jail between 3 and 6 p.m.
Prison Commissioner Louis Giorla has said it was "possible" that Alvarado escaped on his own, but authorities have said Alvarado almost certainly had help from inside the jail, outside, or both.
On the way to the visitors' area, he passed at least two locked doors and a dozen jail employees. He likely passed several security cameras on his way out of the jail, but those cameras are set for real-time surveillance, not to record footage, Giorla said.
For privacy reasons, there are no cameras in the visitors' area.
Eight jail officers were assigned to other posts pending an investigation, and Giorla said security procedures were being evaluated.
No jail officers have been disciplined as investigators continue to probe how Alvarado escaped, said Robert Eskind, the prison system's public information officer.
"I'm sure people are going to want to talk to Mr. Alvarado," he said yesterday. "At some point, we'll discuss with you the results of the disciplinary action, but not yet."
Alvarado has been arrested at least 19 times on drug, theft, assault, and other charges. In October 2008, he was accused of shooting Marta Martinez-Lozada, 37, in what was described as a robbery.
Witnesses said he fired at the woman from a red Honda Civic, which police said was driven by his cousin.