TERRAL, Okla. – Police looking for four Texas prison escapees focused on southern Oklahoma late Friday after tying them to a burglary and briefly chasing a stolen pickup truck believed to be carrying the suspects.
A sheriff's dispatcher said the chase took place on rural roads in Jefferson County, just across the Red River from Texas and only about 30 miles from the jail they escaped from Monday. Authorities eventually lost track of the truck.
The escapees include two convicted killers and two others awaiting trial on murder charges. Authorities said they believed the four were armed with a pistol stolen from an area home on Friday, along with the truck.
Police helicopters and patrol cars continued the search late Friday, and authorities set up a roadblock in the nearby town of Ryan.
"There's a lot of activity, a lot of searching going on around here," Ryan Fire Chief David Underwood said.
The inmates broke out of the Montague County (Texas) Jail on Monday, overpowering a guard with a homemade knife. Authorities say they drove off in the guard's sport utility vehicle.
All the fugitives are from the region. Authorities identified them as Curtis Gambill, 24, of Terral; Joshua Bagwell, 23, of Waurika; and Chrystal Gale Soto, 22, and Charles Jordan, 30, both of Bowie, Texas.
Bagwell and Gambill were serving life sentences for the 1996 shotgun killing of a Waurika High School cheerleader. The others were awaiting trial on charges of murdering an elderly couple.
Authorities said Gambill knew the occupants of the house that was burglarized Friday. They were not home at the time.
"There's a high likelihood these escapees were involved in it," said Tim Cole, district attorney for Montague County.
Authorities said the escapees may have been sighted Wednesday in Duncan, about 40 miles north of Terral. A motorist said he saw Bagwell, an acquaintance from high school, at a convenience store there.