A convict pulled off a short-lived knifepoint escape from...

NORTH HERO, Vt. -- A convict pulled off a short-lived knifepoint escape from a work detail, stole and wrecked a prison van, terrorized an elderly couple, held a would-be good samaritan hostage, then led police on a wild two-county chase before surrendering, officials said.

State police recaptured Frederick Ahearn, 39, formerly of Burlington, Vt., and Lowell, Mass., Monday afternoon on Interstate 89 in South Burlington, about an hour after he fled from the work detail in North Hero.


Leo Lamott, 81, and Mae Lamott, 73, were treated for minor injuries received when Ahearn allegedly broke into their South Hero home; Mrs. Lamott said he choked her and held a knife to her husband's throat while demanding to know if they had a gun.

South Hero Rescue Squad member Gary Tourville, 34, who was abducted at knifepoint when he went to help Ahearn, was not hurt, officials said.

Jail officials said Ahearn pulled a knife on one of five fellow St. Albans Correctional Center inmates on a supervised work detail at the Knight's Point State Park at about 2:40 p.m.

He allegedly forced the inmate to tie up guard Michael Oddy, then sped away in a state van which tipped over on Sunset View Road, about 8 miles south of the work site.


Mrs. Lamatt saw the overturned van, and -- thinking it was one used to carry senior citizens -- telephoned the rescue squad.

Ahearn, meanwhile, crawled out a window of the vehicle, followed Mrs. Lamott into the house, then grabbed her by the throat, she said.

Mrs. Lamott said she fainted and Ahearn pulled his knife on her husband.

Tourville arrived and found Ahearn holding the Lamotts; he said Ahearn demanded that someone drive him away, and he agreed.

Tourville said he was forced into his own pickup truck and told to drive south on Route 2.

Police spotted the truck in Essex Junction and gave chase.

With a knife to his throat, Tourville drove through a roadblock and turned onto the interstate, where police cruisers closed in.

According to Tourville, Ahearn said, 'Enough is enough, they don't care about me -- they don't care about you,' then handed over his knife.

Ahearn was a fugitive from Massachusetts when he was arrested for robbing a Burlington bar in 1976, herding patrons into a closet, and shooting one person in the foot when he tried to escape.

During his trial, Ahearn exploded in a fit of rage and threw a loudspeaker, slightly injuring Vermont District Court Judge Edward Costello.


He was sentenced to six to 15 years in prison for robbery and aggravated assault.

Officials said they expect to file charges against Ahearn in connection with Monday's escape.

Corrections Commissioner James Walton said an investigation was under way to determine how he obtained the knife.

The other inmates on the work detail made no attempt to flee, corrections officials said.

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