N.J. prison escapee captured off Garden State Parkway

An inmate who escaped from a South Jersey prison has been apprehended after a search that lasted nearly a week.

Arthur Buckel, 38, was taken into custody in a wooded area off the Garden State Parkway in Ocean County, according to Lacey Township police.

He was arrested without incident about 11:30 a.m. Monday, after he was spotted overnight at a highway rest stop. Buckel had apparently expressed a desire to turn himself in and was making arrangements to surrender at the Forked River rest area on Garden State Parkway, but left before authorities arrived, police said.

Police beefed up patrols in the area to search for him.

Buckel was found when a passing motorist told a police officer and a corrections officer conducting surveillance at the rest stop that someone might be hiding in the woods on the east side of the highway, police said.

The officers tracked Buckel down and took him into custody.

His apprehension "would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of several law enforcement agencies," Gary Lanigan, the state corrections commissioner, said.

Buckel is being evaluated by a Corrections Department medical unit, a spokesman for the department, Syed Hassan, said Monday afternoon.

He will later be interviewed by the department's special investigations unit to determine what led to the escape, Hassan said.

Buckel escaped from Ancora, a satellite unit of Bayside State Prison in Camden County, last Tuesday morning. He was unaccounted for during an early-morning bed check at the minimum-security prison, authorities said.

Buckel, of Clifton, Passaic County, had been jailed on aggravated assault and drug charges and was to have become eligible for parole later this month.

Buckel previously served time after he pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the 1995 death of a 10-month-old baby in Jersey City, according to court records. He slapped the child to death because she was crying, the Jersey Journal reported.

Corrections officials said an escape charge could lead to an additional three to five years behind bars. Buckel could also face other charges.