Joshua Duane Barnes Escapes Again, This Time Using Bedsheets

Joshua Barnes is on the loose a third time after rappelling 7 stories.

September 21, 2009, 12:08 PM

Sept. 21, 2009— -- Joshua Duane Barnes really, really does not want to be in prison.

Now on the loose on his third escape from custody, Barnes has got a posse of Texas and federal authorites on his tail hoping to put him back in prison for what may be the last time.

The 21-year-old escaped Saturday from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston where he was being held in a specialized offender unit for injuries he sustained in a recent fight with another inmate.

Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told today that Barnes was in his locked room, alone, when officers did a routine check of the inmates around 8:15 p.m. Saturday.

But during a subsquent check just 15 minutes later, Barnes was gone.

"They found a hole within the wall of his hospital room," Clark said.

Authorities believe Barnes cut a hole through the room's sheetrock to reach a portion of the window blocked by the wall and then, after busting through the half-inch to inch-thick glass, tied bedsheets together to rappel from the seventh-story room to the roof of another building about five floors below.

It's likely that Barnes, who is serving a 35-year sentence for multiple burglaries and aggravated assault, made it to the ground by descending to a series of other rooftops and ultimately jumping, Clark said.

"He operated very quickly," Clark said.

That could be because he has experience slipping away from law enforcement. He logged two previous escapes in Potter County, Texas, last year.

Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Roger Short told that the first attempt came on June 6, 2008 when Barnes fled the county courthouse shortly after being asked to take the stand during a probation violation hearing.

The second escape was on Oct. 4, 2008 when Barnes fled from the county jail recreational yard after hopping up on the corner of a roof and peeling back layers of sheet metal and galvanized fencing.

In both cases he was found four days later, hiding out at motels. Short said Barnes attempted to flee officers who caught up with him after the October escape, but was tackled and put back in jail.

The escapes, he said, led to heightened security in Potter County.

Third Times a Charm?

"Once you find out what your flaw is in your security, you go in and beef it up, which is what we did," he said. "Sometimes it takes the crooks to find them."

Because of the first escape, Barnes was shackled during every transport after that.

This time, Short said, Barnes should stick out because his face is badly bruised and his jaw is wired shut. Potter County deputies and Amarillo police, he said, are on the lookout for Barnes since he has several ties to the area.

"Somebody like him that has escaped that may times could be violent, dangerous" as he tries to avoid going back to prison, Short said.

But he's confident Barnes will be back in prison and hopeful he'll stay there.

"Third times a charm," he said.

Clark said Barnes could face an additional two to 20 years in prison on new felony escape charges once he's caught.

Potter County District Attorney Randall Sims told that Barnes' lengthy legal troubles started at age 17, when, in April 2006, he broke into an ex-girlfriend's home and ransacked the place, stealing a gun that he'd later sell to a neighbor.

Less than a month later, Sims said, Barnes committed another home burglary, this time at a different ex-girlfriend's house where he used a gun to threaten people there before firing a round into the balcony.

He was given a 10-year-deferred sentence the following June, but was arrested for probation violation after being picked up for similar burglary crimes in neighboring Randall County.

It was at that probation hearing he took off for the first time, Sims said.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice "wanted" poster for Barnes lists him as being 5'8" and 180 pounds. He has a tribal-type tattoo on his left chest and the word "jail" on the inside of his left ankle. He also has scars on his abdomen, left leg and left forearm.

Anyone with information is asked to call (936)437-5122.

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