ATHENS, Tenn. – A prison volunteer and the murderer she allegedly helped escape were nabbed in a chance encounter with police, who were in a Tennessee mall parking lot discussing strategy for the capture when the couple walked out a bookstore, police said Saturday.
The arrests of Toby Young and John Manard on Friday night came nearly two weeks after authorities say Young drove out of Lansing Correctional Facility with Manard hidden in a dog crate. Young ran a dog rehabilitation program at the prison and a guard did not check her van because he trusted her, authorities said.
The two vanished, but on Friday authorities got a tip that Young — using a false name — had bought a pickup truck in Missouri in the days before the escape, said Kansas Corrections Department spokesman Bill Miskell.
The receipt included the address of a remote cabin in Alpine, Tenn., which officers staked out.
"They had a pretty good head start, but they left some crumbs along the way," Deputy U.S. Marshal Ray Stewart said at a news conference Saturday. "I guess you could say we were hungry."
The pickup was spotted about 100 miles to the south in Chattanooga, where more officers gathered in a mall parking lot, Stewart said.
As the undercover officers discussed strategy to capture the pair, Manard, 27, and Young, 48, walked out of a Barnes & Noble bookstore and past them, Stewart said.
The officers followed the pair almost 60 miles toward Knoxville, and Manard tried to run officers off the road, Tennessee officials said. Just southeast of Knoxville, Manard turned around and eventually crashed the vehicle while trying to cross a median in north McMinn County. He offered some resistance but was captured easily, Stewart said.
Manard and Young, who authorities said had more than $10,000 in cash and two guns when they disappeared, had altered their appearance and "looked significantly different" when arrested, Stewart said.
Young consented to a search of the cabin, which was "loaded with goodies," including the two guns, two guitars, an amp and a laptop computer, Stewart said.
"It looked like they had been on a shopping spree," he said, with receipts showing they had been to a movie and at Wal-Mart and other stores. About $25,000 was found in a lockbox.
When Manard was arrested, he told authorities that Young was being held hostage, but the receipts indicate otherwise, Stewart said.
"It's obvious to me and others in this investigation that she was an active participant," he said.
Young was taken to a hospital after complaining of minor back pain but was being held Saturday in the McMinn County jail, while Manard was held in the Hamilton County jail in Chattanooga. When the two will be returned to Kansas depends on what charges federal and state authorities in Tennessee and Kansas decide to press against them, Stewart said.
Authorities said they weren't sure how long the two had been at the cabin and do not know the nature of the pair's relationship.
Young is married to a firefighter and has children, but authorities believe her family was not aware of her plans.
"I want to assure you that no matter what may come of this, it will remain a private and personal matter," husband Pat Young said in a statement Saturday.
Manard was serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, aggravated robbery and possession of firearms in the 1996 killing of a man during a carjacking when he escaped Feb. 12. He now will face additional charges of aggravated escape from custody.
Miskell, the corrections department spokesman, said all procedures involving volunteer programs at the prison are being reviewed, but officials hope to continue the Safe Harbor Prison Dog Program, in which dogs from animal shelters were trained by inmates so they could be adopted. Some dogs were still at the prison, and a dog adoption was held Saturday in Shawnee, Kan.