Escaped Pa. inmate suspected in killing has been caught

Friday, July 31, 2015
Robert Crissman
Robert Crissman

KITTANNING, Pa. -- An inmate has been captured after police say he walked away from a work-release program in western Pennsylvania while serving jail time for a probation violation and killed an acquaintance who lived nearby.

Pennsylvania State Police tweeted news of Robert Crissman's apprehension Friday morning, about 26 hours after he fled the Armstrong County Jail while delivering meals to other inmates. They did not immediately provide details of his capture.

The body of Tammy Long, 55, was discovered Thursday afternoon at a home about a mile away from the jail in Kittanning, which is 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Police did not say how she was killed. An autopsy was scheduled for Friday.

Long and her boyfriend, Jerry Slagle, knew Crissman but were unaware he'd just escaped from jail when they let him inside, officials and a neighbor said.

"They only knew him as a friend," District Attorney Scott Andreassi said. "They didn't even know he was in jail."

Slagle found Long dead and his truck missing when he got home at about 2:45 p.m., Andreassi said. Officials believe Long was killed after Slagle left for work around 7:30 a.m.

Crissman was last seen driving Slagle's maroon 1999 Chevrolet Silverado extended cab pickup truck. It has a carpenter union sticker on the back window and a Pennsylvania license plate. Authorities were trying to figure out if Crissman had taken any guns from the house.

The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Crissman escaped around 6:30 a.m. Thursday. He walked outside to get the meals from a truck and took off, Sheriff William Rupert said.

"The doors were open so he could carry in meal trays, and he just walked away," Rupert said.

Crissman had been in jail since July 24 for violating probation on a drug charge. There were no violent crimes on his record and he was trusted by staff, officials said.

Barry Crytzer said he hired Crissman off and on over the past year as a handyman performing yardwork and maintenance.

"He was a very nice guy," Crytzer told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "This all seems really out of character from the guy I knew. He seemed like a pretty passive guy."