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Wichita murderer Carrera-Morales, fellow escapees all now in custody

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, April 20, 2012, at 7:20 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, May 4, 2012, at 1:05 p.m.

A convicted murderer who escaped from a county jail in Kansas after being transferred from an overcrowded state prison has been caught, the state Department of Corrections said Friday.

Santos Carrera-Morales, 22, was arrested without incident at 11:38 p.m. Thursday at a truck stop in Russell, said Jeremy Barclay, special assistant to the secretary of corrections. That’s about 80 miles from the Ottawa County Jail, where he and three other inmates escaped on Wednesday.

Carrera-Morales, who was convicted of two 2007 murders in Wichita, and three other men escaped from the jail in Minneapolis, a town about 120 miles west of Topeka, on Wednesday, sparking a furor that prompted the movement of the remaining 18 state inmates at Ottawa County back to the state prison in Ellsworth.

Barclay said a Russell resident recognized Carrera-Morales from photos released following the escape and called 911. Russell police then arrested him and notified state corrections officials.

Of the four men who escaped Wednesday, one was apprehended soon after and another, 21-year-old Drew Wade, turned himself in at a Walmart in western Nebraska the same day after his father counseled him to do so.

The state Department of Corrections said 22-year-old Eric James was apprehended around 5:30 p.m. Friday in Omaha, and is now in the custody of Omaha police.

Details on how he was captured were not immediately released.

Authorities also recovered a stolen Nissan Altima that James was thought to have been driving.

James was serving a state sentence for robbery and other crimes.

Carrera-Morales was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in 2008.

On Thursday, Barclay told the Associated Press that the department was reviewing its policy on inmate transfers to Ottawa County — one of four county jails that accommodates prisoners from overcrowded state facilities.

"We are reassessing our jail placement in Ottawa County right now, just during this period," he said. "This is an interim step while the investigation is taking place."

Sheriff Keith Coleman told Associated Press Radio the inmates used homemade knives to overpower two guards, get into the jail’s control room and unlock doors. He said the four had been in the same area of the jail for less than a week before the escape.

"They didn’t have a lot of time to plan," he said. "We have different rooms in the facility, and they weren’t all together for a very long time."

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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