Prosecutors have charged a Lawrence man for allowing his brother and another prison escapee to live with him.
The trio of men and the 4-year-old boy appeared to be having a normal outing Tuesday at Clinton Lake, enjoying the weather and a personal watercraft.
But they were being watched by dozens of law enforcement officers who were waiting for the right moment to make their move.
Michael W. Wright, 21, Lawrence, and Matthew D. Herndon, 20, Cherryvale, had escaped Friday night from the Stockton branch of the Norton Correctional Facility. Wright's brother, Lawrence resident David A. Wright, 23, was also at the lake with his 4-year-old son.
Douglas County Undersheriff Kenny Massey said the men were leaving the lake in a car, with the personal watercraft in tow, when officers from four different state and local agencies swarmed the car. A Kansas Highway Patrol helicopter hovered nearby in case the men decided to flee. Massey said the men were considered dangerous, causing officers to bide their time waiting for the right moment.
One hundred grams of methamphetamine and two guns were found in the car, authorities said.
The sheriff's department received a tip that Michael Wright and Herndon were staying at David Wright's mobile home in south Lawrence. When officers arrived at the mobile home to arrest the men, neighbors said they had missed them by 15 minutes.
"They had been pulling a Jet Ski when they left," Massey said. "Well, there's only one place in the county where you can Jet Ski, and that's Clinton Lake."
The fugitives' outing at the lake actually provided a better scenario for their capture, with a wide open field in the area. Massey said there was no way to judge how the fugitives would have reacted had they been cornered at the trailer park.
"To us, it's fortunate we missed them," Massey said. " ... They did have a gun."
Michael Wright and Herndon will face aggravated escape from custody charges in Rooks County, where the Stockton unit of the Norton Correctional Facility is. Stockton is about 40 miles north of Hays.
Rod Maddy, public information officer for the correctional facility, said Wright and Herndon were reported missing when they failed to show at a head count at 10 p.m. Friday. The minimum security unit has no fence, and the men apparently walked away.
KDOC spokesman Bill Miskell said no one was injured in the escape, but prison officials released no other details on how they were able to escape.
"Exactly how they got out, we don't know," Miskell said. "They walked away."
Miskell said Herndon, who is serving a 36-month sentence for a robbery in Neosho County, started his prison term on July 8 and was transferred on Sept. 25 to Stockton. Wright, serving a year sentence for felony theft in Wyandotte County, has been at Stockton since June 10.
David Anthony Wright, 23, was charged with two counts of aiding a felon, one count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, one count each of felony and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of Kansas drug tax stamp laws. He remained Wednesday in the Douglas County Jail on $10,000 bond. A district court judge on Wednesday scheduled his preliminary hearing for Nov. 4.
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