Escaped Texas Convict Recaptured

Monday, August 14th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — An inmate who escaped a maximum-security prison by driving a diesel truck through a prison fence has been recaptured after almost a week on the lam.

Terry Rhodes and his wife, Pamela Jean Rhodes, were found Sunday hiding in dense woods west of the Trinity River, only about 10 miles from the Wynne Unit prison.

The 31-year-old inmate had enlisted his wife's aid after the prison break Tuesday, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said. Rhodes worked as a mechanic at the prison and had access to corrections department trucks like the one that was stolen.

For most of six days, the pair had eluded authorities. But rural residents spotted them about 7 p.m. Sunday and searchers then tracked them to a rugged, sparsely populated area dotted with deer hunting camps and logging operations.

The two offered no resistance when they were surrounded at 11:05 p.m., said department spokesman Larry Fitzgerald.

``They had been hiding in the woods. He was wearing camouflage pants and had no shirt. She was in black pants and a white T-shirt,'' Fitzgerald said.

The couple had obtained food and water from at least one trailer and deer camp over the weekend in the area about 10 miles northeast of Huntsville, Fitzgerald said.

``We were grateful that no one got injured in this wild escape,'' he said. ``The officers put in a lot of long hours to catch the guy. But we had been confident that he was pretty close to where we thought he was.''

Guards at the Wynne Unit had fired nine shots at Rhodes as he drove the 18-wheel tractor trailer cab through the prison's perimeter fence and into adjacent Huntsville airport, where he ditched the badly damaged truck on a runway. Police said he then crossed a barbed-wire fence to a truck stop and fled in a black pickup truck driven by his wife.

The escaped convict and his wife sped north on a freeway, evading officers. The truck was found — wrecked but still running — by troopers on Tuesday night in west Walker County, about 15 miles west of the Wynne Unit.

Rhodes, who was two years into a 45-year sentence for a residential burglary and aggravated sexual assault in East Texas, will likely face additional charges when Walker County District Attorney Terry Weeks reviews the case, said Fitzgerald.