Reward money increased in escapee search

December 1, 2009 3:38:38 PM PST
The manhunt continues for an escaped Texas inmate, who is considered armed and dangerous. Investigators say they are following up on every tip concerning the whereabouts of Arcade Joseph Comeaux, Jr., who escaped from a prison van Monday morning. Comeaux was being transferred from Huntsville to Beaumont when he pulled a gun from his wheelchair and forced his guards to drive to Baytown, which is where he ran off on foot.

Authorities held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to give new details in the case. We brought you that press conference live online at abc13.com.

In Baytown, a company post is operating for a second day, but a dragnet is operating area-wide, state-wide and even national.

"We're going to get calls from all over the place. I think they had some calls from as far as Florida," said Texas Department of Criminal Justice Inspector General John Moriarty. "I believe one of the Texas Rangers got a call out of Florida."

More than one hundred tips have come in, according to law enforcement, but Comeaux remains at large after using a smuggled gun to overtake two corrections officers who were transferring him in a prison van from Huntsville to Beaumont Monday.

Comeaux escaped on foot despite being confined until now in a wheelchair. On Tuesday, Moriarty conceded there were suspicions that Comeaux's impairment was questionable.

"There has been prior investigations into his mobility," he said. "But as you know, medical conditions change and fluctuate, and doctors make determinations. But in this case, at the time of the investigation, it was determined that he had more mobility than he was letting on."

That became apparent Monday along with security at a maximum security prison, where a gun said to be a 380 caliber pistol, was apparently smuggled in. Money is now another tool to locate Comeaux. A reward of $6,000 on Monday, and then another $10,000 on Tuesday, plus an army of law enforcement, including the U.S. marshals.

"We're not going away until he's caught," said Alfredo Perez with the U.S. Marshal's Office.

Both U.S. marshals and Texas Rangers have been in contact with Comeaux's family in Houston and family members are said to be talking. As for the new $10,000 reward offered by U.S. marshals, if you have information on his whereabouts, call the tip hotline at 713-718-4259 or 1-877-WANTED2. The other reward money is being offered by Crime Stoppers.

MORE ABOUT COMEAUX

According to prison officials, Comeaux was serving a life sentence for indecency with a child, aggravated sexual assault and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Comeaux is described as a black male, standing 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. A command center has been set up at Highway 146 and I-10, which is where Comeaux was last seen. Anyone who believes they see him should call police immediately. Do not try to apprehend him on your own.

"Beyond the crimes for which he was serving, certainly an escape is a desperate act," said Michelle Lyons with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. "It should certainly be assumed that he is going to do whatever he can to avoid being taken back into custody."

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Comeaux has been in and out of the Texas prison system for the last three decades. He was originally sent to prison in 1979 on three 10-year sentences for rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child and burglary of a building, all in Harris County. He was released on mandatory supervision in 1983. His supervision was revoked and he returned to prison in 1984 with a new charge of indecency with a child in Harris County, for which he received 20 years.

Comeaux was released on mandatory supervision in 1991 and returned later that same year. He was paroled on at the end of 1993 and, as a result of a parole violation, was sent back to prison in 1994. He was again paroled on in 1996, but returned to prison in 1998 with a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault in Brazoria County.

This isn't Comeaux's first time in trouble while in custody. Back in 1999, prison officials say he stabbed his wife during a visit. They say he pinned her against a wall and began to stab her with a handmade metal object. A prison visitor who tried to come to her aid was also stabbed. Both Comeaux's wife and the other visitor sustained injuries, but survived the attacks. For those two attacks, Comeaux received two additional life sentences.


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