The Daring Escape of the
Escape Vehicle Found
At approximately 4 p.m., as the intensive manhunt was underway, the white prison pickup was found abandoned behind a Wal-Mart store in Kenedy. The pickup was in the line of view or focal point of a nearby automated teller machine located in the parking lot, and one of the investigators suggested that they take a look at the video footage it had recorded during the time frame in which they were interested, primarily between 2 and 4 p.m. that day.
After contacting the necessary bank officials to obtain a copy of the ATM videotape, investigators noted two vehicles that were present in the tape when the prison truck arrived and left the scene shortly afterward. The quality of the images on the videotape was very poor, but one of the vehicles in question, a two-door compact car, appeared to be either a Chevrolet Cavalier or a Pontiac Sunbird, dark in color. Even though it was a very vague, general description, and despite the fact that it might not have even been the convicts' getaway car or cars, the information was circulated to police agencies throughout the state and was provided to the news media. Because there were no recent reports of stolen cars in the area, the investigators speculated that the inmates might have had outside help, someone who had dropped off the car or cars in the parking lot earlier that day. However, their trail seemed to vanish at the Kenedy Wal-Mart.
As darkness fell over this shocked and frightened community, authorities from around the state joined in the manhunt for the seven heavily armed escaped convicts.
"Everybody that we can get a hold of, every lawman in the State of Texas is looking for these guys," said Larry Todd, a spokesman for the TDCJ. "We certainly consider all of the inmates armed and dangerous. We know that they can become desperate...they may have split up, they may have gone in pairs. We don't know. What it tells us is that the escape appears to be well-planned, from the inside of the unit to their arrival in the community." Todd stated that the investigators were looking into every possibility regarding any help that the escapees may have had, including possible help from friends and relatives.
"Right now we are combing the state for these people's relatives, their associates, their (former) places of employment, any place they frequented in the free world," said Glen Castlebury of the TDCJ. "They took people hostage, tied them up and left them locked in a room. Put your stopwatch on it. By the time the front office declared, 'By God, it was an escape,' and sounded the alarm, they were gone. They were probably outside the perimeter before the perimeter was set up...We've got seven opportunities. Someone's gonna make a mistake, and if we get one of them we may be on the road to catch all of them, even if they've broken up."
In the meantime, Castlebury remained optimistic that the seven escapees would be caught soon. He cited that out of 275 inmates who have escaped from Texas prisons over the past 16 years, only one has not been caughta man who fled to Mexico, where there is no extradition treaty with the U.S.
"It may be a week, a month or three months, but they're always back," Castlebury said.
Although the cops didn't know it yet, the Texas 7 had spent their first night of freedom in San Antonio, a little over sixty miles up the road from Kenedy. They had likely taken the most direct route, U.S. 181, to get there.