Friday, May 30, 2003

Felon had escape route


Police say hole led to crawl space

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

DAYTON, Ky. - A wanted felon avoided capture Thursday morning by fleeing through a crawl space in his girlfriend's apartment.

Virgil Lee Bowling, 30, of Dayton, Ky., was still at large Thursday evening. He is wanted by probation and parole officials for several felonies, said Dayton Police Chief Mark Brown. Additional charges are pending in connection with the chase.

"He had created for himself an escape method," said Brown. "He had a hole cut into the drywall, and he got in a crawl space. We searched the building from top to bottom and couldn't find a trace of (Bowling)."

Brown said Bowling used his knowledge of the Dayton Square Apartments building to elude police officers from Dayton and a SWAT team.

The three-story apartment building on Eighth Street is the former Dayton High School. The crawl space led to a closed-off section of the building that officers described as a maze of hallways. The corridors were in the basement near where the school cafeteria was located

The hunt started when police spotted Bowling driving a vehicle in a nearby city, Brown said. Dayton police Officer Joe Euton tried to stop Bowling, but he started a short car chase by speeding away. Bowling wrecked in the 900 block of Walnut Street, and ran from the scene before officers could make an arrest.

Euton injured his leg after tripping and falling on wet grass and gravel while running after Bowling, police said. Euton sustained a severe bruise to his leg.

"We had been looking for this guy for a while," Brown said. "We had some information he was staying at his girlfriend's (apartment). That's what led us to Dayton Square Apartments after Officer Euton slipped and fell."

Bowling, one of Cincinnati's former "Most Wanted," has a criminal record in Hamilton County going back a decade. Court records show he has been convicted of theft and forgery and has a history of failing to appear in court.

His criminal record in Northern Kentucky was not immediately available Thursday.

Two weeks ago, Bowling eluded police by running through Riverside Supervalu on Sixth Street, knocking over merchandise. He escaped through a fire door, police said, but not before causing $700 in damage at the supermarket.

"He made good on his escape, but we will continue to look for him," Brown said. Anyone with information on Bowling's whereabouts is asked to call CrimeStoppers at (513) 352-3040.

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com




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