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Bomber Used Battery Acid, Cardboard Dummy To Pull Off Escape From Understaffed Prison

Las Vegas, NV – The convicted bombmaker who escaped from a Nevada prison days before his absence was noticed was apprehended in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Porfirio Duarte-Herrera, 42, was sentenced to life in prison for murder after a bomb he made and hid inside a coffee cup in 2007 exploded and killed a hot dog vendor outside the Luxor hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, KLAS reported.

He was serving his sentence at Southern Desert Correctional Center near Las Vegas, according to CBS News.

But when Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) personnel conducted a headcount at approximately 7 a.m. on Sept. 27, Duarte-Herrera was nowhere to be found, KLAS reported.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced late Tuesday that Duarte-Herrera had actually been missing since Sept. 23, according to KVVU.

“This morning, my office was informed by the Nevada Department of Corrections that an inmate was reported as missing,” Sisolak said in a news release. “My Office later learned that upon further investigation by NDOC the inmate has been missing since early in the weekend.”

“This is unacceptable,” the outraged governor wrote.

Investigators determined the convicted killer used battery acid to erode the window frame of his cell, Fraternal Order of Police Nevada C.O. President Paul Lunkwitz told KVVU.

He noted that Duarte-Herrera did have a cellmate.

Multiple sources said Duarte-Herrera created a dummy – which may have been constructed using cardboard – and placed it inside his cell to trick prison guards, according to KLAS.

Lunkwitz said Duarte-Herrera then escaped through his broken widow and either hopped a nearby perimeter fence or went through it, KVVU reported.

The union president noted that a tower with a view of the fence line has been unmanned for at least two years due to understaffing.

“Not only could that tower see the unit, but the tower could see the fence line where the damage was that allowed the inmate to get through,” Lunkwitz told KVVU. “There are a lot of things that could have been avoided, and a lot of security measures that could take place that isn’t happening primarily due to staffing.”

A frantic search for the convicted bomber was launched on Tuesday after NDOC officials realized he was missing.

Federal authorities announced on Wednesday that a $30,000 reward was being offered for information leading to Duarte-Herrera’s arrest, KVVU reported.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) officer later apprehended the escaped inmate “without incident” in the area of Owens and Eastern, the department tweeted.

Police said they located him after officers received information that someone matching his description had been spotted in the area, but additional details regarding Duarte-Herrera’s capture were not immediately released.

He had been on the run for five days.

Sisolak announced on Tuesday that an investigation into Duarte-Herrera’s escape was underway.

“My Office has ordered NDOC to conduct and complete a thorough investigation into this event as quickly as possible,” he said. “This kind of security lapse cannot be permitted and those responsible will be held accountable.”

But Lunkwitz said the governor shouldn’t be so surprised about the inmate’s escape and the lapse in time before anyone realized he was missing.

“He hired the director. He knows how this department is being run,” the union president told KVVU. “He knows those towers have not been staffed for as long as they haven’t been staffed for, and that’s a legislatively approved budgeted position.”

Duarte-Herrera is a native of Nicaragua, CBS News reported.

He was also convicted of an earlier bombing that took place outside a Las Vegas Home Depot store in 2006, according to KVUU.

His co-conspirator in the Las Vegas Strip bombing, 47-year-old Omar Rueda-Denvers, remained incarcerated at another Nevada prison on Tuesday.

Rueda-Denvers was sentenced to life after he was convicted of explosives offenses, murder, attempted murder, and other various charges, CBS News reported.

He is a native of Guatemala.

The victim of the fatal bombing, Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio, was dating Rueda-Denvers’ ex-girlfriend at the time of his murder, CBS News reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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