After a year on the run, authorities on Tuesday captured Arkansas fugitive Samuel Hartman, a convicted child rapist who was sentenced to life in prison in 2013 and escaped while on a work detail in August 2022.
Hartman, a 39-year-old inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit, escaped from a field near the detention facility last year along with two family members who allegedly fired at correctional officers, according to the Arkansas Department of Corrections.
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders described Tuesday’s arrest as “the culmination of a year of outstanding, dedicated work by our heroic law enforcement officers.”
“Now that they have brought this dangerous fugitive to justice, all Arkansans can sleep safer at night,” she said in a Tuesday statement.
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Authorities have arrested fugitive Samuel Hartman, 39; Hartman’s 39-year-old wife, Misty Hartman; his 61-year-old mother, Linda Annette White; and White’s 52-year-old boyfriend, Rodney Trent, who is from West Virginia. (Arkansas Department of Corrections)
Authorities located Hartman and his alleged accomplices at a Quality Inn in Lewisburg, West Virginia.
Law enforcement also arrested Hartman’s 39-year-old wife, Misty Hartman; his 61-year-old mother, Linda Annette White; and White’s 52-year-old boyfriend, Rodney Trent, who is from West Virginia. Trent is now facing charges for allegedly harboring a sex offender and helping the three fugitives evade authorities.
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Misty Hartman and White allegedly helped Hartman using a pickup truck and “jet skis,” according to the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). The two women allegedly approached the prison work detail in the pickup truck on Aug. 12, exited the vehicle, and fired shots toward correctional officers while Hartman ran inside the vehicle.
Misty Hartman and White allegedly helped Hartman using a pickup truck and jet skis, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. (Arkansas Department of Corrections)
The three suspects then drove off, and correctional officers pursued them until they reached the Mississippi River, where they allegedly hopped on two pre-staged jet skis, USMS said in a press release.
Law enforcement officers in Mississippi and Arkansas later located the two abandoned jet skis on the Mississippi side of the river.
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In March, investigators with the USMS Cold and Complex Case Unit teamed up with investigators from the Eastern District of Arkansas and determined that White had ties to West Virginia through her boyfriend, Trent, and officers were eventually able to locate the four suspects with help from the West Virginia State Police, Lewisburg Police Department and Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office.
Samuel Hartman is accused of fleeing an Arkansas prison with the help of his mother and wife. (Arkansas Department of Corrections)
In a phone call recording between Samuel Hartman and White obtained by prosecutors, Hartman can be heard telling his mother that he touched the minor victim by “accident,” and that the touching was “innocent,” court documents state.
“I’d just keep denying everything to the end. That’s what I would do, regardless,” White told her son in a recorded phone call, court records state.
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She also told her son that “kids, they tell all kinds of s— all the time.”
“I mean, you know damn well you ain’t done nothing like that,” she said in a recorded call, according to court filings.
Escaped Arkansas inmate Samuel Hartman was captured after a year on the run. (Arkansas Department of Corrections)
Hartman had a lengthy list of disciplinary violations ranging from multiple possession or manufacturing of contraband items to battery to sexual activity between 2017 and 2020.
“In my nearly 30 years of law enforcement, I cannot recall a task force that has the level of dedication to accomplishing the mission and making our communities safer than that of CUFFED (Cops United Felony Fugitive Enforcement Division Task Force),” said Michael Baylous, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of West Virginia. “The apprehension of these dangerous fugitives demonstrates the close and outstanding relationship that CUFFED enjoys with our local and state partners, other USMS Districts, and the USMS Domestic Investigations Branch.”
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Arkansas Department of Corrections Secretary Joe Profiri said the DOC, USMS and Arkansas State Police followed up on hundreds of leads over the past year.
“We appreciate the support and assistance from all agencies involved, the Arkansas Governor’s office, and the State of West Virginia in bringing this case to a successful conclusion,” Profiri said.
Audrey Conklin is a digital reporter for Fox News Digital and FOX Business. Email tips to [email protected] or on Twitter at @audpants.
Child rapist who made jet ski prison escape allegedly with family help captured after year on the run
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