Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Captured escapee says prison staff helped him
by KHOU.com Staff
Posted on December 9, 2009 at 6:50 AM
CONROE, Texas—The escaped prisoner who was the focus of a week-long manhunt told a local activist that he had help from the inside. Convicted child rapist Arcade Comeaux said the weapon he used to hijack guards was in his cell for at least three weeks.
Questions still surround the prison system that allowed Comeaux to dupe authorities for years. The supposedly partially-paralyzed man managed to walk away from the guards and right into controversy.
Authorities are asking two questions; why didn’t prison officials realize Comeaux was faking his medical condition, and where did he get the gun?
Local activist Quanell X said Comeaux told him he had help from the inside.
“He named that guard and he also named someone who is involved in medical who had been giving him medical assistance,” Quanell X said.
But prison officials said Comeaux has not shared that information with investigators so there are no arrests at this time.
“This feels like the inmate is running the asylum,” said a former TDCJ staff member who remembers Comeaux clearly.
“He would sit in the food. Of course it would dry and start smelling. He refused to shower, refused to clean himself, basically saying ‘I’m immobile, I need someone to do this for me.’”
The former staff member said Comeaux orchestrated a deliberate campaign of extortion, despite medical reports that he was able to care for himself. He said Comeaux manipulated the system to get health assistance and better housing.
A grand jury on Thursday will hear the case against the convicted sex offender who was captured in northeast Houston Monday morning.
Comeaux is now facing aggravated kidnapping and felony escape charges. He was in custody in the Montgomery County Jail Tuesday, awaiting his hearing. Comeaux, who is currently serving three life sentences, was found when a salesman saw him trying to hitchhike in front of a business on East Little York.
The salesman called HPD, who came and took Comeaux into custody without incident.
Investigators said Comeaux escaped during transport from a prison unit in Huntsville to one in Beaumont.
As the prison van passed through Conroe, investigators said Comeaux pulled out a gun, held two transport guards hostage, handcuffed them in the back of the van, drove the van to Baytown, took the guards’ weapons, put on one of their uniforms and escaped.
Officials launched an extensive manhunt, but Comeaux managed to elude them for seven days before he was captured.
He had been confined to a wheelchair since 1997 when a stroke purportedly left him partially paralyzed, but when he was taken into custody, Comeaux was walking.
He has been in and out of the Texas prison system for 30 years.
Comeaux was first sent to prison in 1979 on three 10-year sentences for rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child and burglary of a building—all out of Harris County. He was paroled four years later.
His parole was revoked and he returned to prison in 1984 to serve a 20-year sentence on a new charge of indecency with a child out of Harris County. He was paroled in 1991 but was in and out of prison for parole violations until 1996.
In June 1998, he was given a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault in Brazos County.
Comeaux was given two extra life sentences after he was convicted of stabbing his wife and another person in 1999. That attack occurred in the Jester III Unit in Fort Bend County when his wife came to visit him. The other person stabbed was a man who tried to stop the attack.
Still, those at the top want to correct the miscommunication between the workers inside prison walls.
“If you are in charge of a prison, and you see there is a disputes between medical’s and correction’s, come to us and ask for laws that would eliminate the controversy, ”said John Whitmire, chairman of the senate criminal justice committee. He is calling for a full investigation of prison and medical staff.
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