Death Row Escapee Found Outside Louisiana Liquor Store

11-7-05 - Authorities searching for a death row inmate who walked away from the Harris County Jail in street clothes found him intoxicated and talking on a pay phone outside a Shreveport, La., liquor store.

Charles Victor Thompson was taken into custody Sunday night and scheduled to appear before a magistrate Monday in Shreveport.

"He never should have got out," Harris County Sheriff's Lt. John Martin said. "To have him back in custody again, this is where he belongs. He was convicted of capital murder. He was twice sentenced to death. There is no scenario under which he should be free roaming around on the street."

Thompson, 35, was convicted in 1999 for the shooting deaths a year earlier of his ex-girlfriend, Dennise Hayslip, 39, of Tomball, and her new boyfriend, Darren Keith Cain, 30, of nearby Spring.

He was sentenced to death on Oct. 28 and was being held in the county jail until he could be transferred to a prison in Livingston, about 75 miles to the northeast.

Thompson escaped from custody Thursday, using a smuggled set of clothes and a fake identification badge to get past guards.

His escape resulted from "multiple errors" by jail personnel, Martin has said.

The U.S. Marshals Service designated Thompson a federal fugitive in order to use its resources to find him and offered a $10,000 reward for his capture.

Thompson appeared to be intoxicated when he was arrested about 8 p.m. Sunday. When an officer asked Thompson his name, he replied "You know who I am." He then identified himself as Charles Thompson, Martin said.

"He was talking on a pay phone at the time officers approached him," he said.

Thompson had a bicycle, but it was unclear how he got to Shreveport, which is about 200 miles northeast of Houston, Martin said.

"You have to understand we just got him in custody. There are a lot of things we haven't worked out about exactly how he got from here to there. All of that will be under investigation," Martin said.

On Thursday afternoon, Thompson was taken to a room in the jail for a meeting with his attorney. The visitor, however, was not Thompson's attorney of record, Terrence Gaiser, although investigators have determined the other person was an attorney, Martin said. His name has not been released because he is considered a witness.

After the attorney left, Thompson was alone in the room and he managed to remove his handcuffs and his bright orange prison jumpsuit and put on a dark blue shirt, khaki pants and white tennis shoes. Authorities believe those were the clothes Thompson wore during his sentencing and say he somehow smuggled them back to his cell.

Wearing his new outfit, Thompson left the prisoner's booth in the visiting room, waved a fake ID badge that wasn't scrutinized as he passed at least four jail employees at work stations. Thompson was eventually let into the jail's visitor's lobby and from there he walked out of the building and into the street.

"There's no way Chuck had the brain power for this," said John Donaghy, whose sister Thompson was convicted of killing. "He's not the sharpest pencil in the box."

Authorities think somebody helped him escape, Martin said.

"We do think that people helped him if for no other reason than we found his clothes back behind another jail facility," he said.

Steve Tiller with the U.S. Marshals Service said they followed many leads. Tips were received from around the country and that officers from many jurisdictions worked to get Thompson back.

Even though Thompson's arrest was very important, it was only a small part of the ongoing investigation into how he managed to escape the county jail, Tiller said.

Shreveport city Jail Supervisor Barry Newton said Thompson had been booked on a charge of fugitive from the U.S. Marshal's Office and as a fugitive from Harris County.

Donaghy said he and his family felt a sense of relief when they learned of the capture. The family has spent the past few days hiding in hotels and staying with friends in other parts of the state.

"My family can now go back to a normal living. They have been totally disrupted," he said.

Donaghy said he expected Thompson would have been caught in Mexico, not Louisiana.

"I figured he had enough common sense to stay hidden for a while," he said. "It's just ridiculous that he got out."

Just like investigators, Donaghy said he wants to know how Thompson walked away from the jail and where he got the ID card that he flashed to authorities.