Last 2 fugitives in Texas escape caught in Colo.

After 5 hours of talks, men surrender at hotel

January 25, 2001|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

DENVER, Colo. - The last two of seven fugitives from Texas were apprehended early yesterday in Colorado Springs, ending an exhaustive 42-day search for men the authorities believe killed a police officer 11 days after they escaped from a maximum-security prison.

Tracked down at a Holiday Inn where they negotiated the terms of their surrender with law enforcement officials for more than five hours, the men - Patrick Murphy Jr. and Donald Newbury - walked out of a room they had occupied for two days and were taken to the El Paso County jail. Investigators said they found two shotguns and 10 handguns in the room, and a large amount of cash.

As part of the surrender agreement, the men were allowed to speak for five minutes each with a Colorado Springs television reporter. Both complained about the Texas prison system.

"If these individuals were unhappy with their previous experiences in the Texas criminal justice system, they will probably be even more unhappy with their next experience, including facing the death penalty," said Glen Castlebury, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The men said efforts to blend in with neighbors helped the seven avoid raising suspicions during their three-week stay in a motor home in a trailer park in Woodland Park, Colo., about 20 miles northwest of Colorado Springs.

The capture ended one of the nation's most intense manhunts in recent years. Four of the escapees were apprehended Monday in Woodland Park. A fifth shot himself to death inside the motor home after officers had tried to talk him into surrendering.

"We're relieved this has been resolved without anyone else getting hurt," said Philip Altpeter, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Denver.

All seven had been serving long sentences for violent crimes, and federal authorities said they would be charged in Texas with killing a police officer in Irving, who was responding to a Christmas Eve robbery at a sporting goods store.

The trail to the remaining fugitives began with the discovery Tuesday morning of an abandoned van that authorities said the men had been using. Tuesday night, police in Colorado Springs received a call from someone at the Holiday Inn across the street from where the van was parked who said two guests "looked suspicious."

By 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, police arrived, checked a photocopy of the identification and then gathered in the room next to the fugitives. Within two hours, Altpeter said, officers had confirmed their identity and evacuated hotel guests. Police contacted the men by phone and began negotiations. The two surrendered at 3:45 a.m.

Murphy had been serving a 50-year sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and burglary; Newbury was serving a life sentence for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

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