Escaped convicts remain at large; van recovered in Kansas

Tuesday, October 18th 2005, 11:43 am
By: News On 6

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) _ A van police believe was used by two men who escaped from an Oklahoma prison was recovered Tuesday about four miles north of the Oklahoma-Kansas border along Interstate 35, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.

Convicted killer Aaron Olsen, 39, and convicted rapist Pharon Johnson, 49, escaped from the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington on Sunday. The two kidnapped a woman in the prison parking lot and stole her van, police said.

The van apparently was left along the Kansas Turnpike sometime after 6 a.m., said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lt. Pete Norwood. There was no sign of Olsen or Johnson, and authorities don't know if the two men were on foot, managed to get a ride or stole another vehicle.

``The lights were still on and the keys were still in the ignition, so we believe they just ran out of gas and pulled it over to the side,'' Norwood said. ``I believe they're still in that area.''

Investigative units and an Oklahoma Highway Patrol aircraft were being sent to the scene, Norwood said.

Nearby schools were locked down, authorities said.

Stacy Richards, 30, of Tulsa, told police she was visiting her boyfriend at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center on Sunday when two men matching the descriptions of Johnson and Olsen approached her as she prepared to leave.

She told police the two men vowed they would not be taken alive.

After driving around for several hours, Richards said the men duct-taped her hands and mouth and placed her in a ditch near Hefner Road in northeast Oklahoma City.

She managed to free herself, flagged down a motorist and police were called. Richards was not injured.