Tuesday, January 24, 2001
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Posted at 7:10 a.m., January 24, 2001

Last two Texas fugitives surrender

Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Cornered in a hotel room, the last two Texas prison escapees surrendered without a fight early today, 42 days after they broke out of a maximum security unit with an arsenal of weapons.

Patrick Murphy Jr., a 39-year-old rapist, and Donald Newbury, a 38-year-old robber, walked bare chested out of the hotel room where they had been holed up after about five hours of negotiations with police and an interview with a TV station.

``They had their say by telephone and then we had them back out of the room, shirtless, hands in the air, no weapons on them,'' FBI agent Mark Mershon said.

The men each had a five-minute telephone interview with Colorado Springs' KKTV before surrendering at 3:45 a.m.

Newbury told anchorman Eric Singer the Dec. 13 breakout was a statement against Texas' judicial system.

``We had a statement to make that the system is as corrupt as we are. You going to do something about us, well, do something about that system, too,'' Newbury said.

Murphy said he was up for parole when he broke out.

``What forced me to do this was the penal institution and such. The way Texas has things set up ... I'd eventually become an outlaw again anyway because of parole stipulations and such.''

Newbury says he's surrendering because his wife encouraged him to give up.

``I hope that maybe what we're doing here will open the eyes of people.''

Newbury and Muprhy were handcuffed and put into separate patrol cars that slowly rolled out of the parking lot of the Holiday Inn. They were taken to the police department and were to be transferred to the El Paso County jail, also in Colorado Springs. Their four surviving companions were held in a detention center in Teller County about 20 miles away.

``This episode is now closed and finalized,'' police Lt. Skip Arms said.

``I think they felt that they had some message that they wanted to convey,'' Arms said. ``Since we showed a level of trust to them, they followed through and showed a level of trust and did follow through on their commitment.''

Murphy says he and the other six inmates tried to blend into the Woodland Park community.

The arrests brought to an end a frustrating hunt — one of the largest in the Southwest's history — for the seven convicts who bluffed their way out of the prison in Kenedy, Texas, southeast of San Antonio.

Four were arrested peacefully Monday at a convenience store and at a motor home in nearby Woodland Park. A fifth killed himself in the motor home as authorities closed in.

Authorities have said the men robbed an Irving, Texas, sporting goods store and killed Officer Aubrey Hawkins when he arrived. He was shot 11 times and run over by a vehicle. That heightened fears the men would not surrender peacefully.

``Now we can get down to business and get some changes in this lousy Texas penal system,'' Jayne Hawkins, the officer's mother told The Associated Press on today. ``My son will not die in vain.''

The seven arrived in Colorado the last week in December, spending time in Pueblo, about 100 miles south of Denver, before renting a space for their motor home in the Coachlight Motel and RV Park in Woodland Park around Jan. 1.

``We had to drive out of the Texas snow storm that hit right at Christmas Eve in the Amarillo area and we had to drive through the blizzard for hours and literally, Colorado was just a random pick,'' Murphy said during his interview.

They led the park manager and neighbors to believe they were Christian missionaries en route from Texas to California, while keeping as many as three dozen weapons, loaded and cocked, in the cramped RV.

``We joked about it often, but it really was just by downplaying ourselves and changing our hair color and such,'' Murphy said. ``We attempted to be as friendly and neighborly as we could.''

Authorities believe Murphy and Newbury split from the others last weekend because they wanted to obtain more money.

After the four were arrested Monday, police and FBI agents began to close in on Murphy and Newbury.

The next day, they found their van abandoned in a motel parking lot two blocks from the Holiday Inn. Since no vehicles had been reported stolen, officers searched door to door.

They received a tip the two were at the Holiday Inn and surrounded the hotel, opening negotiations via telephone at about 10 p.m.

It was a weekend airing of the prison escapees' story on the television show ``America's Most Wanted'' that finally broke the case.

A $500,000 reward had been offered for information leading to the conviction of the officer's killer, but there was no immediate word on how or when that money might be distributed.

The show prompted several tips from residents that the fugitives may be in Woodland Park, a bedroom community of about 8,000 15 miles northwest of Colorado Springs.

At a convenience store, authorities arrested suspected ringleader George Rivas, 30, who was serving a life sentence for aggravated robbery and kidnapping; and Michael Rodriguez, 38, and Joseph Garcia, 29, both murderers.

At the same time, authorities surrounded the fugitives' motor home. Randy Halprin, 23, who had been serving time for beating an infant, surrendered. Larry Harper, 37, convicted of aggravated sexual assault, shot himself to death inside the RV.

Murphy had been serving 50 years for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon. Newbury was sentenced to 99 years for robbing a woman at a hotel in 1997 with a sawed-off shotgun.

On the Net:
Texas Department of Criminal Justice: http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us
Irving Police Department: http://www.irvingpd.com

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