MADISON — The search continues for Dylan Perkins, the 20-year-old fugitive who escaped over the wall of the Somerset County Jail in Madison just 10 days before the end of his sentence.

Officials said that Perkins’ situation could make him dangerous.

“He’s never been one to display any type of aggressive behavior,” Lt. Carl Gottardi of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department said. “But anybody in a desperate situation has the potential to possibly be dangerous. Now they’re in a different situation — they’re escaped, they’re desperate, they obviously don’t want to be captured.”

Gottardi said that people who see or have knowledge of Perkins shouldn’t get directly involved, but should call police to let them handle it.

By Monday evening, police dog units involved in the subsequent manhunt had lost the trail, leaving the escaped inmate at large.

“He works in our kitchen. We back our truck up so that the inmates can unload the produce into the kitchen,” said David Allen, the jail’s administrator. “That’s an unsecured part of the facility. … When they were unloading, he took off and went up and over the fence.”

Perkins was serving a three-month sentence for revocation of probation, according to Allen. A Somerset County Sheriff’s Office log said authorities were called to the scene at 12:37 p.m.

It’s not the first time Perkins has tried to skirt the law. In 2010, he was sentenced in Somerset County Superior Court to six months on a charge of eluding an officer. He also has been convicted of aggravated criminal mischief.

By serving on the kitchen work crew, Perkins was earning time off of his sentence and was scheduled to be out well ahead of his maximum release date, according to Allen.

Perkins was wearing a white jumpsuit and black moccasins at the time of his escape. He’s 5 feet, 8 inches tall, weighs 147 pounds and has strawberry blond hair.

“He just bolted for the woods,” Allen said.

Officers from the Skowhegan and Madison police departments joined sheriff’s deputies in the manhunt, as did the Maine State Police and the Maine Warden Service. Two dog units and a plane were also employed in the search.

Soon after his escape, Perkins was seen running across a field behind the nearby transfer station by a pair of public works employees, who asked not to be identified because of their status as town employees.

“We saw him running across the field,” said one, who noted that it’s not unusual to see residents in the field on their way to fish. “He saw us, and he started to run the other way.”

They estimated that they saw Perkins just five minutes before law enforcement agents swarmed to the area.

The initial search was concentrated on a small wooded area between the dump and Molunkus Road, where he had been seen. Officers could be seen guarding a perimeter along Steward Hill Road, which runs along the far side of the wooded area behind the jail, and Route 150, which lies beyond a second patch of woods and fields.

Several of the officers stood quietly, rifles in hand, studying the undergrowth and brush from the roadside, while dog units conducted an in-depth search.

Area residents said they were surprised to see the activity after years of a quiet coexistence with the jail, construction of which was completed in early 2009.

“There were cops all over our road, so we figured we better stop and ask what was going on,” said Bernadette Munster, who was camping her family, including six grandchildren, on her sister’s Steward Hill Road property.

“They said he’s not considered dangerous, but we’re anxious,” Munster said.

By late afternoon, the dogs lost the trail and were called off the active search, according to Gottardi. It was believed that Perkins had slipped through the perimeter, and the focus of the search shifted.

“We’re conducting interviews with friends and family members,” Gottardi said. In addition, he said, units were patrolling the area, and a nationwide notice had gone out.

“If anybody intentionally harbors or assists him in any way, they may face charges of hindering apprehension themselves,” Gottardi said.

Gottardi asked that anyone with information on the case call 911 or leave an anonymous tip at 474-0230. Even if a name and number is left on the tip line, Gottardi said, the anonymity of the caller will be protected.

Monday, Gottardi said that the investigation was ongoing.

“We’re still following up on a few leads or tips, ruling everything out,” said Lt. Carl Gottardi of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department.

Allen said that he couldn’t speculate on Perkins’ motives, but said that it “was not a wise move.”

“He could add up to five years for felony escape,” Allen said. “He just had to wait a few more days and he would have walked out the front door instead of running into the woods.”

Gottardi said that he didn’t know why Perkins, whose sentence ended on July 27, would attempt an escape that could cost him an additional five years behind bars.

Gottardi said that other pending charges against Perkins may have been a factor.

The escape will automatically trigger a review of the jail’s practices to see whether systems should be improved, said Gottardi.

“The jail staff reviews to see if all of their policies and procedures were followed, and they also look at if there’s anything that could be done better,” said Gottardi.

Gottardi added that Perkins status as a trustee, a security designation that allows more freedom than the general population, earned him access to the low-security kitchen area from which he escaped.