Gary Michael Wooten, 32, a Palo Pinto County jail inmate, was recaptured and returned to his cell around 6 p.m. March 19.
According to Palo Pinto County Chief Deputy Mike Sudderth, between 8:30 and 9 a.m. that day, Wooten began mowing the lawn of the Palo Pinto County Courthouse. Around 11 a.m., he apparently walked away from his duty as a newly-appointed trustee.
Wooten eluded officers for several hours.
Sudderth said the extensive manhunt involved about 20 officers, which included the Texas Department of Public Safety, a helicopter, a warden and three officers from the Robertson Prison Unit in Abilene, who had brought several dogs with them to help aid in the search which lasted about six and a half hours.
In addition, Precinct 5 Constable Gary Morris; Precinct 4 Constable Randy Hunter; and courthouse security deputy Matt Damico aided in the search.
He was recaptured near the airport on FM 1195 in Mineral Wells.
“I positioned myself along Highway 180,” said Morris.
He said a man parked at the gate near Dempsey Heliport, east of Palo Pinto, waved him down.
“‘Apparently, you’re looking for somebody,’ he asked me,” Morris said. “He said he saw someone, a white male wearing a blue shirt, jump the fence (across the highway) and go east in the tree line.”
Morris stayed at the location to keep from contaminating the scent for tracking dogs coming in from Abilene.
Wooten can now add the felony offense of escaping imprisonment to the Class B misdemeanor charge for driving while intoxicated that had originally gotten him put in jail on Nov. 23 of last year.
Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Todd Baker arraigned Wooten and set his bond at $500,000.
“He’s on a no bond hold for Nueces County on a motion to revoke involving a DWI arrest there,” Sudderth said.
“It was very well organized in terms of the response to get him located,” Morris said. “It was a very good response.”
Wooten was taken into custody about 6 p.m. the day he fled, officials reported.