Henrico neighbors react as manhunt for escaped prison inmate reaches day three

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Posted at 6:13 PM, Aug 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-14 18:13:45-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Melody Walden's Saturday morning was quite the dichotomy. Starting with a text message alert from police, she felt both a sense of chaos and calm while she locked down inside her home near St. Mary's hospital.

"Helicopters all over just constantly," Walden said. "I kind of thought it was a hoax because I never in my life got anything like that. Then we got a phone call, and it was Virginia State Police telling you to shelter in place, there’s an escaped inmate.”

That inmate, 21-year-old Naseem Roulack, remains on the run for the third day. Roulack, who was imprisoned at Greensville Correctional Center but was at St. Mary's for treatment, walked out of the hospital early Saturday morning despite having two Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) officers assigned to supervise him.

Walden said she was appreciative of the alert.

“I said I guess we better shelter in place and do what we’re told, and we kind of paid attention to the helicopters," she said.

VADOC, Virginia State Police, and Henrico police continue to follow up on investigative leads, but the search for Roulack continued Monday, a spokesperson for VADOC said. He was serving time on a 13-year prison sentence for aggravated malicious wounding, grand larceny, and hit and run, officials said.

Dr. William Pelfrey is a criminal justice professor at VCU with an expertise in policing. Now that the search is on its third day, Pelfrey said law enforcement is greatly expanding its perimeter.

"Once the police are confident the perimeter is no longer affected, then they have to change their search dramatically," he said. "They’re going to look at known people — accomplices, family members, friends, former inmates. They’re going to try to find somebody with a modality for assisting the fugitive in such a way they could transport them away or give them a hiding place, somewhere outside of the regional search.”

Officials have not said where they think Roulack, who is from Woodbridge, is heading. Fugitives from law enforcement need some form of help and money to elude police for this long, Pelfrey said.

"They’re going to have to find a resource: somebody helping them secure funds or they’re going to steal them. Stealing money will leave a trail for the investigators to follow," Pelfrey said. "If the fugitive is outside the immediate region, it’s going to create an inter-jurisdictional problem. Every time there is an escaped fugitive, you’re going to have to go through local, state, and sometime federal authorities to get everybody to cooperate. That task force is going to be very important.”

“[Investigators] need a possible destination. They need to know this person has friends in Charlotte, has friends in Atlanta, or they have friends in Baltimore," Pelfrey continued. "Then, they can focus on solicitation of intelligence for information using a reward to get tips, otherwise it’s going to be a fruitless endeavor.”

Walden's hours on lockdown were more productive than alarming for her.

“Yeah, just looking at things. Looking in the car a little bit longer before you got in it," she said of the search. "We were made to stay home, so at least we got a few things done inside.”

Unlike the agencies now tasked with tracking down Roulack, Walden said she gets to move on.

“He’s on his way, and I got to go on my way," she said.

If you see Roulack, do not approach him, officials warned, call 911. Anyone who thinks they may have seen him or has information about his whereabouts is also asked to call 911 or dial #77.

Additionally, anyone with information can call VDOC’s fugitive line at 877-896-5764.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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