Authorities warn residents in Wayne, Ashland counties to be alert as search for escaped inmate continues

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WAYNE COUNTY, Ohio -- A potentially violent inmate, who made a daring escape at a northeast Ohio rest stop, remained on the run Saturday night. Authorities warn residents in Wayne and Ashland Counties to be alert and keep their doors locked.

32-year old Said Ali El-Khatib has been on the run since 9:00 p.m. Friday. All day Saturday, U.S. Marshals, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers and local sheriff's deputies and police officers searched areas in Wayne and Ashland Counties.

“It’s possible he may have had this whole thing planned out, that's what we don't know," said Pete Elliott, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Ohio.

A private extradition company was transporting El-Khatib in a minivan from New York to a sheriff's department in Indiana, where he was wanted for vehicle theft. He asked to use the bathroom at a rest stop on I-71 South in Wayne County. When he got out of the van, he took off into the woods.

"He was being transported by one individual, you know, that's the information that I received and that's...he was able to get away from that one individual and escape,” said Elliott.
“Would that one individual be law enforcement,” asked Fox 8 News reporter Kevin Freeman.
“ As far as I know, no," Elliott answered.

"I know a place back in the woods, it's kind of in that area where if somebody was running, they might go, so I just called to have somebody check it out," said Ashland County resident Sue Frank.

Frank called police to her property in the town of Polk, in Ashland County Saturday evening.
She lives about three miles south of the rest stop where El-Khatib escaped.

"I kept the door locked today, beautiful day, I normally would have been out doing work all day long and I didn't…I stayed in the house," said Frank.

Law enforcement also searched specific locations in the city of Ashland, where El-Khatib has an outstanding warrant for theft from 2014.

"He had some ties and has some ties to the Ashland area and the surrounding area so we're checking out everything right now," said Elliott.

El-Khatib was wearing a plain tan shirt and pants and had leg chains and handcuffs on when he escaped.

"If he had this planned, then he's far away right now, if he didn't have it planned, I believe he's right here in this area," Elliott.

Authorities ask residents to lock up barns, sheds or garages and let them know if you find anything missing, such as food, clothing or tools; something he might use to survive.

A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered to anyone who can help lead authorities to El-Khatib.

Continuing coverage, here.

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