The “Texas Seven” is down to the Texas Two. But authorities aren’t breathing any easier today as they scour the area around the men’s hideout for weapons and clues.
"This story is by no means over," said police investigator Mark Mershon. "It's important that the public know that these two remaining subjects are armed and extremely dangerous. Don't approach them. Just provide us with the information we need."
On Monday afternoon, four of the fugitives — suspected ringleader George Rivas, Michael Rodriguez, Randy Halprin and Joseph Garcia — were captured without gunfire in a quiet mountaintop trailer park community in Colorado. A fifth, Larry Harper, killed himself in the trailer where officials believe the escapees had been hiding out for at least three weeks, police said.
As the hunt continued for the remaining two fugitives, details emerged from witnesses and officials of how the men spent their time during the past three weeks.
The men posed as a traveling Christian group, reading the Bible and playing religious music. Rivas dyed his hair pale blond and another dyed his orange.
One fugitive asked a teenage neighbor if he could get him some pot, another attended Bible study, and some made a trip into Colorado Springs Friday night for a little drinking and dancing, which sparked a flurry of calls to police from bar patrons. One bar caught the group on surveillance tape and checked the men's identification.
Dave Hansen, 41, a carpenter and resident of the trailer park, said he went to Bible study with Larry Harper, 37, the fugitive who committed suicide. Harper was in prison for aggravated sexual assault.
"He seemed like a pretty nice guy," Hansen told the Associated Press. "He told us he had turned himself over to God. You'd have no clue this guy was involved in the mess he was in."
Hansen has his own opinion on why Harper was at the Bible study group.
"I think he probably felt so guilty about what he did. He knew the end was coming ... He killed himself and now he's going to hell."
Mark Murray, 18, another resident of the park, said one of the seven — he didn't know which one — appeared excited when he asked Murray whether he smoked pot.
"He said, 'I haven't had that in a long time.'"
Authorities Hope for More Tips
Authorities say the four men captured are providing "limited cooperation" on the details of their prison escape and possible whereabouts of the two remaining fugitives. But investigators say they are relying mainly on information from residents of the trailer park and outside tips.
Police have issued an all-points bulletin for Donald Newbury and Patrick Murphy in Colorado, western Kansas, northern Oklahoma and New Mexico. The duo may be traveling in a three-tone brown 1980 Ford Econoline van with paper license plates, heavy-duty tires and white blinds or curtains in the windows, according to police.
Authorities warn the two remaining fugitives are probably more desperate and, as a result, more dangerous without their suspected ringleader.
The two had left the group at some point Sunday on a mission to get more money, police said. Authorities believe they were initially heading toward Denver and may go to Mexico.
Tip Leads to Capture