NAZARETH, Pa. - Police in Northampton County are searching for a prisoner who escaped custody after a court appearance in Nazareth.
Daniel Preziosi, 24, was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Monday, surrounding charges he faces for allegedly pulling a gun and demanding cash from the Wunderler Market in Bath in October 2013.
According to officials, Preziosi walked out of court in handcuffs and shackles.
A constable who was responsible for returning Preziosi to the Northampton County Prison tells 69 News that Preziosi took off while security was loading other prisoners into the car behind the magistrate court. A constable was within five feet of Preziosi when he fled, the source explained.
According to the source, Preziosi was able to wiggle his arms and legs from the handcuffs and shackles by using petroleum jelly that was found in his orange jumpsuit, which he later ditched. The handcuffs were found in a double locked position and the petroleum jelly container was opened, indicating Preziosi slid out of them, the source said. The constable said Preziosi obtained the jelly from the prison.
Preziosi was last seen wearing off-white colored long johns, police confirmed.
A constable who chased Preziosi down said he lost sight of Preziosi after running a few blocks, but said he saw Preziosi removing the handcuffs while on the run.
Nazareth Borough Police Chief Thomas Trachta said a search dog lost scent of Preziosi near a road, but would not confirm if there was a getaway car or not.
Northampton County Executive John Stoffa said a getaway car was suspected.
Amanda Tagliaterra said she was at her boyfriend's preliminary hearing on Monday, and had no idea that her boyfriend would attempt to flee from security.
"I am in shock. I can't believe he did this. I don't know why and I don't get it at all," Tagliaterra said.
According to Tagliaterra, there were rumors circulating on Monday that indicated Preziosi got into her car and was armed with a shotgun. She said the rumors are not true.
"He was just in court, how would he get a shotgun? There is no shotgun. They checked my car. There is nothing. He is not armed or dangerous," Tagliaterra said.
Tagliaterra said there is surveillance video of her driving around town on Monday that shows her boyfriend was not in the car, but she worries he could be in danger if people think he's armed.
"I just want him to be safe, so if he can turn himself in. People think he's armed and I don't want anything to happen to him," Tagliaterra said.
Tagliaterra said she had no contact with her boyfriend after the court proceeding Monday morning.
"I don't know where he is. I haven't talked to him," Tagliaterra said.
Chief Trachta said there is no indication that Preziosi is armed. He also said Tagliaterra is cooperating with authorities, but the investigation continues.
Trachta could not provide details on where Preziosi may be hiding out. Police aren't saying whether anyone else was aware of Preziosi's plan.
Joyce Wunderler, owner of the Wunderler Market, said she does not believe Preziosi will return to her store.
"I'm not worried. I would think he wouldn't be dumb enough to come back here. But who knows?" Wunderler said.
The Northampton County School District said George Wolf Elementary School in Bath was put on a precautionary lockdown for 20 minutes on Monday afternoon, after receiving a call from the 911 Center about the escape.
The Northampton County Department of Corrections described Preziosi as male standing 5'10", and weighing roughly 145 lbs. He has short brown hair and brown eyes.
Nazareth Police have an arrest warrant for Preziosi. Preziosi now faces a charge of felony escape, according to Chief Trachta.
Anyone with information should contact Nazareth Police at (610) 759-9575 or dial 911.
Allentown, PA 18102