Prosecutors ponder what to do with captured inmates

Thursday, February 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ARDMORE, Okla. (AP) _ Prosecutors in two states pondered what to do with four Texas jail escapees who were captured after a 10-day manhunt.

Carter County District Attorney Mitch Sperry expected the inmates would be arraigned Friday afternoon, but Sperry said he's not still sure what new charges they'll face, though kidnapping seems likely.

Joshua Bagwell and Curtis Gambill surrendered to authorities early Thursday after holing themselves up in a convenience store and holding the owner hostage. Charles Jordan and Chrystal Soto, who escaped with Gambill and Bagwell from the Montague County, Texas, jail Jan. 28, were arrested without incident Wednesday night.

Sheriff Harvey Burkhart says he's ordered his staff to have no physical contact with the four inmates.

A capital murder case against Jordan goes to a grand jury Monday. But Montague County District Attorney Tim Cole said there's no immediate plan to bring the four back to Texas.

Meanwhile, hostage George West said he got a ``neck-hugging'' from his wife when the six-hour standoff ended at 4:30 a.m. When he opened his gas station a few hours later, well-wishers began coming by.

West, 65, said he never felt like a hostage.

``They weren't out to hurt anybody,'' he said.

West said the six hours he spent with Bagwell, 23, and Gambill, 24, even passed pleasantly as they discussed hunting and fishing.

``That's something I could talk about for days,'' West said.

The fugitives _ whom West called Curt and Josh _ spent the rest of their time relishing beef jerky, beer and other pleasures they didn't have in the Texas prison where they were serving life sentences for the 1996 murder of a Waurika cheerleader.

At the time of the escape, they were being held in the Montague County jail for legal proceedings connected to the death of Heather Rich, 16.

Soto, 22, and Jordan, 30, were charged with the killings of an elderly couple in the county.

The four overpowered a female guard at the jail and fled in her sport utility vehicle.

Agents said the four walked about 40 miles following their escape and spent most of their time hiding in southern Oklahoma woods.

Jordan was using a pay phone at the gas station when an FBI agent and a sheriff's deputy arrested him shortly before 10 p.m. The officers had received a tip that the escapees might be there.

Soto came out of the convenience store at the gas station and gave up. Gambill and Bagwell refused to come out of the store until almost seven hours later.