Exclusive Tour: Cavern Below I-44 Where Accused Tulsa Burglar Was Living

Thursday, August 8th 2013, 6:26 pm
By: News On 6

Tulsa police arrested a man Thursday suspected of breaking into east Tulsa businesses several times in the past few weeks.

Surveillance video shows a man break out the window of the Subway store at 41st and Garnett, go inside, grab some food and drinks and then leave. It's happened eight times to that store and to other stores, as well.

Each time, officers arrived and it was like the man pulled a disappearing act, until officers saw him dart into the middle of I-44.

8/8/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Police Arrest Serial Burglary Suspect In 'Cavern' Under I-44

They found a tiny crevice and realized he had a secret hiding place. Firefighters put a tiny camera down the crevice, but couldn't see anything.

"I've crawled up into attics and through dog doors, but, never down into a cave underneath a highway," said Officer Robin Mendenhall.

The 11-year veteran was the smallest officer on the scene Thursday, so she was chosen to go into the crevice after the suspect.

She found him hiding underneath. She said he came quietly, then both of them were hauled out of the hole by firefighters.

"It's full of dirt and mud. He was trying to dig. He said later, he'd seen the camera and went up into a corner and was digging a hole to hide, and prayed we didn't come after him," Mendenhall said.

James Alexander was booked into jail for burglary and tearing up property.

His family says he has struggled with mental illness and they've been looking for him. They've even filed some missing persons reports.

It's tough to down into the cavern, but it's pretty big and open underneath the highway. It's very hot, though, and doesn't smell very good.

Police hope someone puts a grate up top, so no one else can get in there.

As for Officer Mendenhall, her fellow officers gave her a Tunnel Rat patch and presented her with a helmet with a flashlight on top, for the next time she has to go underground for an arrest.

News On 6 anchor Lori Fullbright went into the cavern Thurday and had an exclusive look at where Alexander has been calling home. Watch the video above for her tour.