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.

Recruiting reinforcements was difficult. There were two birthday parties that night, and others were out drinking their paychecks -- police officers can't go on duty drunk.

Captain Buchanek was watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie with his 13-year-old son, Mike. Recently divorced, he doesn't get to see his boys much. He wasn't excited when his beeper went off. His ex-wife was out of town, so he picked up his ten-year-old at a birthday party and then scrambled to find someone to watch the boys. Then he bought several large cups of coffee, Diet Pepsi and pretzels, and headed out to join the force.

With the officers they had, they spent the night planning. They made maps of the trailer park, diagramming Terry and Lynette's possible escape routes, trying to figure out how to block them. They closed off the highway on either side of Guadalupe Road.

The officers tried to troubleshoot from every angle. They plotted how to approach the trailer without being noticed by the occupants or by neighbors who might warn the fugitives. In addition to capturing the offenders, they also had to worry about protecting innocent people from getting caught in the crossfire.

From dusk until dawn an unmarked patrol car was like a general's wartime tent.

"It iswar," says Buchanek, a former army sergeant. "Only we have to play nice."

They wanted to bring in a helicopter to follow the fugitives if they drove off, but it was too foggy for air support. Temperatures were in the 40s, and the wind whipped through the black fatigue jacket and body armor Buchanek was wearing.

At dawn 25 officers in black, bullet-proof helmets and shatter-resistant vests surrounded the trailer. They climbed into scattered trees and crawled beneath the flanking trailers. If the fugitives wouldn't surrender peacefully, the tear gas was ready.


Jeanne was sleeping off her hangover when she heard shouting. You hear shouting a lot living in trailer parks, so she tried to cover her ears and ignore it. Then she realized someone was calling her name. Paul struggled out of the bed beside her; wearing only blue bikini briefs, he stumbled outside with his hands up.

Jeanne pulled a pair of Levi's over her panties and followed him outside. Charlie, who had been passed out on the couch, was close behind. They lay down in the gravel-strewn sand and were handcuffed, shackled and taken to sit in a van. Jeanne asked an officer what was going on, but she was so scared she couldn't understand what he said. The only time she had been in trouble before was when she got two days' suspension in high school for smoking cigarettes.

The trailer's white Christmas lights glowed in the early-morning light. The world looked gray.

Terry and Lynette stayed in the motor home. Maybe they believed if they were really quiet the officers would think they weren't there. But the closed curtains moved.

"You, in the RV," cried FBI agent Chris Cole on the bullhorn. "Move away from the curtain."

Cole called "Banks and Barnett" 13 times.

"It's time to come out -- it's over," Cole said at 7:08 a.m. "We know you're in there."

Officers shined their flashlights on the hot pink curtains. Cole told the fugitives to exit through the driver's-side door.

"It's time to come out," Cole repeated. "NOW."

There was no response. Maybe they couldn't hear him. If they heard his voice, Cole said, they should stick a hand out by the front curtain.

"Okay, we see the hand," Cole said, switching to a less patient, more commanding tone. "It's time to come out now. Nobody needs to get hurt."

The curtains stayed still.

"Let's go!" Cole yelled, like a high school football coach. He'd been awake 26 hours. "It's time to come out now -- it's time to give it up."

The longer Terry and Lynette stayed inside, the more the officers worried. Terry didn't have anything left to lose; they didn't know if he was going to kill her and himself or if he was preparing to try to take out the officers. The man had murdered before, Buchanek says. Chances are he would again.

From behind the door Terry yelled to the officers that he wanted a moment alone with Lynette.

No, Cole said, and repeated the order to surrender.

No response.

"We're waiting," Cole said. "Come out NOW."

At 7:20 a.m. Terry yelled that they wouldcome out, but to give them a few minutes. He wanted to talk to Lynette.

Cole shouted back that he'd have plenty of time to talk to her later.

"It's time, Terry," Cole said.

After three orders, Terry and Lynette pulled the windshield curtain back.

"Come on out, nice and slow," Cole said. "One at a time."

Wearing a red flannel shirt and jeans, Lynette opened the driver's-side door. Her dark brown hair almost hit her shoulders. Cole told her to drop the hairbrush she was holding, put her hands in the air and slowly back toward the sound of his voice. She lay down on her stomach and was cuffed and shackled.

She didn't look relieved and happy like a freed hostage would: She looked worried.

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