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Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2001

Police corner last 2 fugitives

January 24, 2001

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— Authorities late Tuesday surrounded a hotel where two men claiming to be the last two of the seven inmates who escaped from a Texas prison were.

Police Lt. Skip Arms said officers were in contact with the two men who claimed to be the two Texas fugitives, Patrick Murphy Jr., a 39-year-old rapist, and armed robber Donald Newbury, 38.

Arms said police got a tip during the day that the men were in the Holiday Inn, which is two blocks from a motel parking lot where their van was found earlier Tuesday.

Police officers and SWAT team members surrounded the Holiday Inn and evacuated the rooms near where the two men were holed up. Arms said officers were negotiating with them.

A spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the two men have been positively identified as Murphy and Newbury.

Murphy and Newbury were among seven convicts who escaped from a Texas prison in December, triggering one of the largest manhunts in the history of the Southwest.

Authorities said the two were believed to have a dozen weapons including assault rifles and shotguns, and may have bulletproof vests.

Four of the other convicts were captured peacefully Monday in Woodland Park, a rural bedroom community 15 miles northwest of Colorado Springs. The other convict killed himself as authorities closed in on a cramped motor home where the fugitives apparently had been staying since Jan. 1.

The standoff at the Holiday Inn started about midnight.

"We got em," said Larry Fitzgerald, spokesman with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Earlier Tuesday, a van authorities said was used by the missing two convicts was found abandoned in a parking lot, about 20 miles from the mobile home park where the other escaped convicts had been captured.

Newbury's wife had pleaded for him to surrender.

"I don't want him hurt. I don't want him dead," Jacqueline Newbury said Tuesday.

Inside the RV where all the inmates had been staying, officers found a "personal note" from Larry Harper, the convict who killed himself, to his family; the contents were not disclosed. Also found were $10,000 in cash, thousands of rounds of ammunition, two-way radios, a medical kit and receipts for bulletproof vests, recently purchased in Denver and Aurora, said Mark Mershon, FBI agent in charge in Colorado.

"The note was sitting on top of an open Bible," said Teller County Coroner Debbie Smith. "It was partially covered by eyeglasses, a pen and a small prayer book or something."

In addition, "there were 35 weapons in there, loaded, cocked and ready for action, as we say," Mershon said.

Some of the guns were taken from the Texas prison; others were traced to the sporting goods store, he said.

The seven fugitives broke out of a maximum-security prison in Kenedy, Texas, southeast of San Antonio, on Dec. 13. They were believed to have been in the Woodland Park area since around New Year's Day. Authorities were tipped off to their presence by residents who had seen the convicts featured on TV's "America's Most Wanted."

According to authorities, the inmates robbed an Irving sporting goods store and gunned down Officer Aubrey Hawkins when he showed up. He was shot 11 times and his body was run over by a vehicle. The thieves fled with guns, clothing and $70,000 in cash and checks.

The three convicts captured Monday at a convenience store near the RV park were suspected ringleader George Rivas, 30, a kidnapper and burglar; and Michael Rodriguez, 38, and Joseph Garcia, 29, both murderers. Randy Halprin, 23, who had been serving time for beating an infant, surrendered a short time later at the motor home.

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