Skip to main content

Police catch Texas escapee: 'He was tired of running'

Arcade Comeaux Jr. escaped with two guards' guns while he was being transferred between prisons, authorities say.
Arcade Comeaux Jr. escaped with two guards' guns while he was being transferred between prisons, authorities say.
  • NEW: Arcade Comeaux Jr. was "cold, wet, tired and hungry," official says
  • NEW: Police say Comeaux had two pistols, was captured without incident
  • Comeaux escaped last week while being transported between prisons
  • He escaped on foot although he was supposedly paralyzed, officials say
  • Texas
  • Prisons
  • Sexual Offenses

(CNN) -- A Texas inmate who escaped last week -- on foot even though he was thought to need a wheelchair -- has been recaptured, the U.S. Marshals Service said Monday.

Arcade Comeaux Jr., 49, was carrying two loaded pistols when he was arrested without incident at 7:40 a.m. at a business in Houston, Texas, said U.S. Deputy Marshal Alfredo Perez.

"[Comeaux] was cold, wet, tired and hungry. He had had enough," Perez said. "He was tired of running."

The arrest was made by two Houston police officers responding to a suspicious-person call about a man who matched Comeaux's description.

Comeaux was sitting in the lobby a northeast Houston business, apparently in search of warmth and shelter, when officers approached, according to Houston officer Adrian Rodriguez.

"As soon as we saw him, we knew it was him," Rodriguez said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Comeaux was serving three life sentences when he escaped on November 30 while being transferred by two armed guards from Huntsville to Stiles.

He produced a weapon and forced the two correctional officers to drive instead to Baytown, near Houston, where he handcuffed them together in the back of the van, took their weapons and one of their uniforms and ran away, officials said.

Perez said authorities haven't confirmed whether the two pistols found on Comeaux Monday are the guards' weapons, "but they look to be the same."

Perez said the marshals service had fielded hundreds of calls of sightings by citizens over the past week, and were responding to a Crimestoppers tip in the same area when they saw Comeaux taken into police custody. More than $30,000 in reward money had been posted by law enforcement agencies for information leading to his arrest.

Comeaux was being transported Monday afternoon back into the custody of the Texas prison system, Perez said.

Comeaux, who was on the marshals' list of 15 most-wanted fugitives, was serving time for aggravated sexual assault and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon when he escaped. The 6-foot, 200-pound man was shackled and in a wheelchair, which he had said was needed for mobility, according to Michelle Lyons, director of public information for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Huntsville.

Some 45 minutes into the transfer trip, as they were driving through Conroe, 40 minutes north of Houston, the prisoner pulled out a pistol and ordered the guards to drive south to Baytown.

He fired once, but hit no one, officials said.

Law enforcement officers found the unharmed officers an hour later.

Comeaux was being transferred so he could be near a hospital in Galveston for treatment of the supposed paralysis he had suffered during a reported stroke, officials said.

Comeaux's criminal record dates back more than three decades. In 1979, he received three 10-year sentences for rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child, and burglary of a building with the intent to commit theft, all in Harris County.

He was released on mandatory supervision in 1983, but he was returned to prison in 1984 after being convicted of indecency with a child and sentenced to 20 years.

In June 1991, he was released on mandatory supervision but returned as a violator four months later. Paroled in December 1993, he was returned as a parole violator a year later. In February 1996, he was again paroled, but was returned to prison in June 1998 with a life sentence for aggravated sexual assault.

Though he had been in prison since, his criminal record didn't end. In July 1999, he used his wheelchair to pin his wife against a wall during a contact visit and stabbed her 17 times with a homemade knife, said John Moriarty, inspector general of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He also stabbed another prison visitor who tried to intervene; both victims survived.

For that, Comeaux was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and received two additional life sentences.

He now will face additional felony charges.

His escape led the legislator whose committee oversees Texas' criminal justice system to call for a shakeup of the prison system.

"We just can't have security breaches of this nature," said Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston who is chairman of the state Senate's Criminal Justice Committee.

Moriarty said such lapses are highly unusual in the state's penal system. "We have no open gun investigations other than this one," he said. "The last one was several years ago."