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Four of the 'Texas Seven' in Custody in Colorado; One Escapee Barricaded in a Trailer

Aired January 22, 2001 - 3:24 p.m. ET


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, bringing our viewers here at CNN up to date on the latest developments in the case of the "Texas Seven" -- those would be the seven escapees from a Texas prison. They disappeared in mid-December, have been on the run ever since, have been considered armed and extremely dangerous over this time. Authorities now in Woodland Park, Colorado this afternoon say that they believe they have captured four of those seven men. They have not been able to tell us which ones, but four of the escapees have been apprehended without injury or incident apparently at a private residence there in Woodland Park, Colorado.

It's about 50 miles south of Denver. It is very close to Colorado Springs, Colorado. There is no, as I said, identification yet of which of the seven individuals they believe they have arrested there in Woodland Park, Colorado.

Joining us on the telephone line is Mac Stringfellow, who is with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. We appreciate your being with us, sir.

Can you tell us what you know about the latest developments?

MAC STRINGFELLOW, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Well, right now, Joie, what we know, that three have been arrested without incident, no shots fired. One we have been able to confirm is Rivas, whom we thought was the ringleader, and the other two are believed to be Garcia and Rodriguez.

Now, we also have two that are still barricaded in the mobile home that we believe are Harper and Halprin.

CHEN: OK. Can you tell us of the men who are still at large, what kinds of crimes they were convicted of, how they came to be in the prison system?

STRINGFELLOW: I don't remember exactly which one committed what crime. But they were all violent crimes and have been sentenced for many, many years, because they were in a maximum security unit, and that would -- they would have to be in that category.

CHEN: Now, I know one of the big concerns had been that these men had thought to be -- thought to have significant arsenal with them. They were able to capture weapons when they disappeared from a prison, and then later at a robbery that was committed at a sporting goods store as well. But you say there were no shots fired, at least now to this point?

STRINGFELLOW: No. That was the first question I asked when I received a phone call, if anybody had been hurt or killed. The three had been arrested without incident and no shots fired. And we have a SWAT team on site. They're negotiating with the other two in the -- in the mobile home.

CHEN: You say negotiating with the other two. Is there any indication that they have tried to draw fire or do anything of that kind?

STRINGFELLOW: Well, at this time, it's not been reported that any shots have been fired.

CHEN: Now, explain to me how it is you happen to have a SWAT team there from Texas in this area. Had you been given information that you thought these men were in this area?

STRINGFELLOW: No, this is a local SWAT team. We received a tip this morning about 6:30 or 7:00 that they had been sighted in some kind of a religious compound, and the FBI, U.S. Marshals and local law enforcement agencies responded, and were able to take out three of them without incident.

CHEN: All right. Now you have now counted, at least to this point, we believe to be five of the individuals. That means two you don't have an account for yet?

STRINGFELLOW: That's correct. We're not sure what happened to the other two, if they're still in the area or if they split up and went in a different direction.

CHEN: There had been reports coming to you over these last two weeks of sightings of these individuals all over the place, throughout the West, southwestern states?

STRINGFELLOW: Absolutely. I mean, we had sightings coming in from all over Texas and even as far -- far away as New York City.

CHEN: We had -- had a report that WFAA, the television station that CNN is affiliated with in Dallas, Texas, had talked to a woman who said she was an eyewitness, met these individuals in this compound. I guess it's a trailer compound outside Colorado Springs. Have you heard anything about other witnesses, people who encountered these individuals?

STRINGFELLOW: No, we haven't had an opportunity to interview any of the other witnesses involved.

CHEN: Mr. Stringfellow, I have to tell that you CNN has confirmed four individuals, authorities in Colorado confirming to CNN four individuals were apprehended. Can you explain this discrepancy? You say three, you're told? STRINGFELLOW: Well, possibly maybe one of the two hostages held in the barricade has come out. We don't -- we don't know if -- I had received that four had been -- received word that four had been taken hostage -- taken. But I am not sure if one of the them came out or if we still have two.

CHEN: I'm sorry, you used the word "hostages." You mean....

STRINGFELLOW: That was -- that was -- I misspoke. I meant the -- there are no hostages and that they -- they came in without incident at -- three were captured, two were still in the barricade, and possibly the fourth one is one of the two that came out of the barricade.

CHEN: Now when you say that earlier in the day -- you said 6:30, 7 o'clock this morning -- you received a tip that these individuals might be at large in that particular area -- can you tell us what information this came from? Was it an individual in the compound or authorities doing some other investigation that led them to believe these people might be there?

STRINGFELLOW: Hold on. Wait. I'm just getting handed a note here. I'm sorry.

CHEN: Certainly. We want to give our viewers the latest information, as you get it.

STRINGFELLOW: Yes. Well, no, it came from an individual, and just been handed a note that that is correct. One of the two escapees that was barricaded in the trailer has given himself up. And so, now we have four in custody and one is remaining.

CHEN: Do you know which one was the latest to give himself up?

STRINGFELLOW: No, I surely don't.

CHEN: OK. But you do know -- the first information you've received then was that Rivas, Garcia and Rodriguez were at least among three of the four.

STRINGFELLOW: That's correct. And the last one remaining says that he'll give himself up when he's able to speak to his dad on the telephone. So maybe we're trying to get a phone to him so he can talk to his dad, and then he'll come in.

CHEN: Now, was there any indication given by any of these people, where the other two individuals might be? Whether they might still be in the same area?

STRINGFELLOW: Well, that we don't know yet. To my knowledge, we have not been able to interview any of the escapees, and so I don't know about the other two.

CHEN: Do you know anything about this compound, where these individuals were located?

STRINGFELLOW: No, I surely don't.

CHEN: You described it as a religious compound?

STRINGFELLOW: That was the word that we got about 6:30 or 7:00 this morning, that it was, they thought it was some type of a religious compound and they had been sighted -- sighted there.

CHEN: One of the things I had been told earlier in this investigation is a concern in a case like this, where you had individuals who are already known to have been very dangerous in the crimes that they have been convicted of and armed so heavily, is that you would need a large force to bring these people in without incident. Can you talk about the law enforcement involved in today's capture?

STRINGFELLOW: I'll -- other than the FBI, the U.S. Marshals, the local sheriff there, I don't know how many people were involved in the arrest. All I can say is I'm very appreciative of their effort and their cooperation in bringing these people, bringing them in before anybody else got hurt.

CHEN: All right. We just want to clarify for our viewers what we've been hearing from you. The latest information that CNN is able to bring you that of the four people who were known to have been captured earlier today, confirmed by Mr. Stringfellow with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice -- those would be Rivas, Garcia and Rodriguez. The fourth person -- it is not clear who it is -- has turned himself in as well. Another individual remains barricaded inside this compound. And this man, Murphy, who is another one of the escapees as well as Newbury, are also still thought to be at-large. There is no information that Mr. Stringfellow was able to give us at this point about where they are.

But apparently, officials in Colorado, near Colorado Springs, Colorado have been able to apprehend four out of five who were located in a compound near Colorado Springs. Again, here, looking at this picture of the Texas Seven. the Texas Seven -- Rivas, Rodriguez on the bottom line, and Garcia among the three -- three of the four who have been apprehended to this point. Either Halprin or Harper has apparently turned themselves in. Another one is on -- hoping now to get a telephone line apparently to his father. And Murphy and Newbury are still unaccounted for.

CNN is standing by. In less than 30 minutes, we expect a news conference to come up that we will hope to be able to bring you more information about the apprehensions of four at least of the Texas Seven, and possibly five in the near future. At least authorities have been able to ascertain where this fifth individual is. He is barricaded now in that compound in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Again, just to bring you up to date, authorities have now apprehended four of who they believe are the Texas Seven. A fifth person barricaded and talking to authorities anyway. Two individuals, though, of the Texas Seven still at-large, and you can be sure that authorities are working hard to track them down. We'll take a break here. A reminder that we expect a news conference in less than half an hour here at CNN. So we'll bring you the latest details as we get them.



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