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Investigators still were trying to determine how a man was able to steal a Niagara County sheriff's patrol vehicle Saturday while his hands were handcuffed behind his back.

Sheriff Thomas Beilein said Sunday that he "has an idea" how Jonpaul Oliver, 28, of Ruhlman Road, was able to circumvent not only the handcuffs but also the metal cage that restrains prisoners in the rear seat of patrol vehicles. He declined to be more specific.

Deputies said they had taken Oliver, sought for violating parole in a previous assault conviction, into custody at about 6:40 a.m. Saturday after finding him hiding beneath a bed in his apartment.

After finding drugs in the apartment, they arrested Oliver's girlfriend, Elizabeth Scirto, 27, on multiple charges, deputies said.

While deputies searched the apartment, Oliver was placed into the back seat of a patrol vehicle outside the apartment, Beilein said. He somehow managed to free himself and drive off in the car, he added.

"He headed straight to his mother's house" on Drum Road in Hartland, Beilein said, "and so did we."

By the time police arrived, Oliver had abandoned the patrol vehicle and left in another car, Beilein said. After denying she had seen her son, Donna Vanetten, 49, Oliver's mother, was charged with hindering prosecution.

State police caught up with Oliver on Genesee Street in Cheektowaga, where he again was taken into custody at 11 a.m. He was charged with escape, grand larceny and three drug counts, police said.

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