An Auburn man convicted of beating his estranged wife with a hammer six years ago remained at large Tuesday after escaping from a prison the day before.

Police were searching for 38-year-old Stanley Wetmore after he walked away from Charleston Correctional Facility, a prison north of Bangor, Monday night.

Police were also searching for Wetmore’s now ex-wife, to warn her that her former husband was on the loose.

Wetmore is considered dangerous and possibly armed. Prison officials said it appeared Wetmore simply walked away from the lockup. Police were especially concerned that he could be headed to the Twin Cities.

On July 20, 1998, Wetmore sneaked into his estranged wife’s apartment on Elm Street in Lewiston and hid in a bedroom until Lisa Wetmore came home. Police said he then ambushed the woman, beating her repeatedly with a hammer.

Investigators said Wetmore beat the woman in the head and arms in an attempt to knock her unconscious so he could take her to his home at 243 Main St. in Auburn. He also tried to strangle her in an attempt to knock her out, police said.

At the time, the Wetmores were separated. Lisa Wetmore had filed protection orders against her husband in the spring before the attack, according to police records.

Lisa’s brother arrived at the apartment shortly after the attack and found her in a pool of blood, according to a spokeswoman from the Abused Women’s Advocacy Program. She was taken to Central Maine Medical Center and police were called.

For two days, police here and in neighboring towns responded to reported sightings of Wetmore. Two days after the assault, a caller reported seeing Wetmore in the area of Bonney Park, not far from his Main Street home.

Police from both cities rushed to the area but found nothing. However, officers who remained at the scene looked inside an abandoned house on Hutchins Street and spotted people inside.

Wetmore was found hiding under a blanket. When questioned by police, he first gave his name as Howard, police said. However, investigators had little trouble identifying Wetmore – his first name is tattooed across the knuckles of his left hand.

With Wetmore on the lam Tuesday, police in Lewiston and Auburn were concerned about Wetmore’s former wife.

“We’ll try to make contact with her. She needs to be made aware,” said Lewiston police Sgt. James Rioux. “If she needs to be placed in a safe house, we can do that. We don’t want her sitting there as a possible victim.”

Wetmore was originally charged with attempted murder but was later convicted of aggravated assault and burglary. He was sent to Charleston in December 1998. At the time of his escape, Wetmore had a little more than a year to serve in his sentence. He was scheduled to be released Dec. 7, 2005.

The Charleston Correctional Facility is located on the site of the former Charleston Air Force Station. The prison houses about 92 male prisoners, moved there from higher security institutions, such as the Maine State Prison in Warren, the Maine Correctional Center in Windham and the Downeast Correctional Center in Bucks Harbor

Wetmore apparently fled from the prison shortly before 10 p.m. Monday, but was not reported missing until 11:20 p.m., according to Department of Corrections officials.

Searchers and dogs from Maine State Police, the Maine Warden Service, sheriff’s departments in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, and the Dover-Foxcroft Police Department searched Monday night and Tuesday.

Prison officials said Wetmore was not considered a security risk when he escaped. He had no prior record of security offenses, according to the Department of Corrections. He faces up to five more years in prison on escape charges if he is caught.

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