LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A federal prisoner who fled the country after he was temporarily freed to try to donate a kidney to his ailing son was due in court Thursday after being arrested in Mexico with his girlfriend, authorities said.
Byron Keith Perkins and Lea Ann Howard were arrested Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta and were being flown to Los Angeles for the court hearing. They are expected to be returned sometime next week to Louisville, where both face federal charges, the U.S. Marshals Service said.
Perkins had been released on $10,000 bond in January 2006 but failed to show up for the compatibility tests to see whether he could donate the kidney his son Destin.
Destin, now 17, eventually received a kidney from an anonymous donor. He told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" that he was doing fine but wasn't sure he could forgive his father.
"I don't know how he could lay his head down at night knowing he ran away and left me up here to die like that," the teen said.
Perkins had been jailed awaiting sentencing for marijuana distribution and unlawful transport of firearms. He faced at least 25 years for those charges, which were filed while he was serving a supervised release from a North Carolina sentence for bank robbery.
The U.S. Marshals Service listed him among its 15 most wanted fugitives after he fled.
Authorities said Perkins and his girlfriend checked into a motel this week in an area of Puerto Vallarta they had visited the previous summer.
"They moved around, literally hitchhiking and moving around and working odd jobs throughout Mexico, and they were dumb enough to go right back to the same little spot that they were in last summer," said Rich Knighten, chief deputy U.S. marshal in Louisville.
Knighten said local residents, who had seen the couple on "America's Most Wanted," contacted local police.