Run to Ground

Inmate Terry Banks broke out of jail in Missouri, prison guard Lynette Barnett by his side. They disappeared for seven weeks - until the law caught up with them in a Victoria County, Texas, trailer park.

Nine days before the escape, surveillance video reveals Terry and Lynette strolling into a storage room holding hands. Walking back, they drop each other's hands just before they hit the main room.

"She was smitten," Lipanovich says. "Just smitten."

On Wednesday, three days before the escape, Lynette missed a gynecologist appointment in St. Joseph. Instead, she went shopping. According to Lieutenant Don Fritz of the Cameron Police Department, Lynette took her prison-issued badge to The Printing Center and told the clerks that her boyfriend had lost his ID card and he'd get in big trouble if his boss found out. She wanted them to make a blank copy of her card. The clerks said no. At her second stop, Discount Printing, they said yes.

Caught in the crossroads: like in any cop movie, officers told the fugitives they were surrounded and to come out with their hands up.
Caught in the crossroads: like in any cop movie, officers told the fugitives they were surrounded and to come out with their hands up.
Charlie says the fugitives lived with Jeanne. she says they lived with Charlie.
Charlie says the fugitives lived with Jeanne. she says they lived with Charlie.

Lynette also charged $80 worth of men's shirts and jeans on her JCPenney card. Her credit card statement shows that she stopped at a gas station, filled up, then drove 35 miles home and stopped to top off the tank.

Investigators find that suspicious. After driving 35 miles she'd still have plenty of gasoline; she wouldn't need more fuel unless she was planning to run.


Terry followed Lynette out into the prison parking lot and climbed into her truck. It was a sunny afternoon two days before Halloween. Perfect driving weather. They drove past the cows and horses in the meadow bordering Crossroads and rode 52 miles south to Kansas City. No one was expecting Lynette home -- she had told her mother and Harold she was heading 40 miles north to her grandmother's house in Bethany. She had some comp time, so she was taking a five-day weekend.

All that was missing from her room was a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and her seizure-prevention medicine.

Lynette cashed her $1,400 paycheck at Jim's Liquor and called one of her high school girlfriends. (That's one of the many unexplained numbers on Harold's phone bill. The girlfriend later told FBI agents that she had refused to meet with Terry and Lynette.)

Then the two drove three and a half hours south to where Terry's dad was sharing a single-wide trailer with his brother, Robert. Charlie, 51, had moved down there a week before.

Lieutenant Fritz believes that Charlie didn't know anything about the escape. Rationalizing that Terry would try to find his father, investigators had Charlie's previous employer call him the day it happened. Charlie sounded surprised and excited that his boy was out of jail. Investigators assume Terry and Lynette met up with Charlie after the phone call.

On November 3 a federal warrant was issued for Terry's arrest. Two weeks later, on November 18, Charlie sold Lynette's truck to the wife of a guy Robert built trailers with. The police found the truck December 3. (They had a flag on the title, but since Lynette had bought the truck only 15 days prior, the paperwork hadn't gone through the Department of Revenue.) Lynette's name was on the title in the glove box, and buried in the backseat of the cab was a Crossroads-issued belt, radio holder and pepper spray.

Robert Banks told FBI agents that he and his brother had had a fight and he hadn't seen him since. He said he drove Charlie to the bus station the day after Thanksgiving, dropped him off and didn't ask where he was going.

That's where police lost the trail.


Jeanne Jones met Charlie Banks about five years ago, when they were living in the same neighborhood in Edmond, Oklahoma. (Charlie was spending time there with his father before he died. Jeanne was married and working at Arby's.) Jeanne let her shar-pei, Odessa, run the streets at night. Charlie worked the night shift baking at Daylight Donuts. While he walked home at 6 a.m., her dog chased him up and down the street. Jeanne and Charlie got to be friends. She liked Charlie, even though she thought he was a chauvinistic pig -- he was always telling her that she should be fat and in the kitchen having babies. She told him to shut up and drink another beer. He told her to get it.

Charlie is the one who introduced her to car mechanic Paul Hoard, Jeanne says. Paul and Charlie shared a two-bedroom trailer near Jeanne's house. Soon after they met, Jeanne left her husband to live with Paul.

About three years ago Jeanne and Paul moved to Victoria, Texas. Her sister lives there, and it was far away from her husband. (She doesn't know where he is now and says she doesn't care.)

Charlie visited Victoria about two years ago. He stayed for a while, partying and looking for work. He never found a good job in Victoria, so he packed his bags and moved to Excelsior Springs, just outside Kansas City. There he got a job working in a lumberyard about an hour from Terry.

Still, Charlie kept in touch with Paul. Jeanne and Paul don't have a phone, so Charlie called Paul at work at Mike's Auto Body to catch up.

Charlie had friends in Victoria, and he knew it was an empty place that feels far away from everything. Known as the South Texas Crossroads, Victoria is two hours from Houston, Austin and San Antonio. The town is famous for the first longhorn cattle ranches. The main roads have more barbecue joints than fast-food restaurants, and most of the downtown storefronts are still hand-painted. The phone book, white and yellow pages combined, is only a half-inch thick.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...