Relatives of notorious escapee say state is unfairly denying his release

February 15, 2018 07:18 PM

ARGYLE - Joel O'Keefe became notorious in 1994, when he bolted from the back of an unmarked State Police car while on his way to court in Ballston Spa. At the time, he was facing charges of burglary, weapons possession, and a sex charge.

O’Keefe was on the run for nearly two weeks. He was the target of a multi-state manhunt, and was ultimately found at a submarine sandwich shop in Bennington. The sex charge was dismissed and he was sentenced to 10-to-20 years in prison.

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The sentence kept getting longer when O'Keefe tried to escape from prison. Now, after more than 22 years in state custody, he's ready for release.

He was eligible to walk free on November 25, if he could find a suitable place to live.

O'Keefe's relatives have said they've offered five places in and around Argyle where he could stay.

Travis Jameson says the Division of Parole, which is part of State Corrections, has turned down each offer.

The most recent proposal from Jameson includes giving O'Keefe a rustic cabin in the middle of the woods. It doesn't have indoor plumbing and his nearest neighbors would be pigs about a quarter-mile down the road. However, the state Division of Parole says no.

"They don't want him out. The state troopers, the district attorney or parole, they just don't want him out," said Jameson. "They kept trying to talk us out of letting him stay here. Telling us how disruptive they were going to be and search the house at any time."

O’Keefe has long been mentioned as a person of interest in an unsolved homicide in Hartford in 1988, but he was never charged.

Jameson says the state is denying the housing proposals, because parole officers think O'Keefe's relatives helped him while he was on the lam back in 1994.

"I never helped him. Nobody knew where he was. We kind of figured he was in Mexico," said Jameson.

A Department of Corrections spokesman says reasons for denying proposed housing for inmates are confidential.

Jameson said he remains hopeful that parole will approve O’Keefe living in his cabin, because he said parole officers told him late Thursday that they’d like to take another look at it next week.

O’Keefe, who is now 57, remains held at Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus, NY.


WNYT Staff

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