2011-05-28 / News

Prison escapee apprehended

By Scott Rawdon

BUCKEYE LAKE – A man who escaped from the Jim E. Hamilton Correctional Facility at Hodgen, Oklahoma in 2005 was apprehended in Buckeye Lake Village Sunday following a bizarre series of events.

“We’d been having problems with him for months,” said Buckeye Lake Police Captain James Hanzey. He said the escapee, Steven M. Capps, 38, was kicked out of his girlfriend’s Buckeye Lake home several months ago and Capps began vandalizing her house and vehicle. When officers questioned Capps about the incidents, he told officers that his name was Steven M. Martin, living at 83 Crane Lake SE in Buckeye Lake. Hanzey said there was no information on file pertaining to Steven M. Martin, which raised suspicion.

Hanzey said two weeks ago a rash of burglaries began in the village, including the Valero gas station, the Boat Boys, and Z’s Market. Each time, food, candy, and cigarettes were stolen. Capps did, however, break into a private residence and steal a rifle.

Hanzey said Capps, who was serving a 20 year sentence in Oklahoma for Obtaining Property by Trick or Deception according to a Licking County Sheriff’s Office press release, survived as a homeless person taking refuge where he could, even staying in a boat without the owner’s knowledge. Hanzey said all Buckeye Lake officers spent many hours, including off duty time, tracking down Capps. He said Capps was completely covered during the breaking and entering incidents, and security cameras couldn’t get a recognizable photo.

The escapee set up camp in a wooded area behind Buckeye Lake Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Karen Cookston’s home. Hanzey said someone working for Cookston saw Capps behind Cookston’s home and asked what he was doing. Capps said he was hunting for mushrooms, but the worker contacted police. Hanzey said he and officer Vicky Glover discovered the well-organized campsite behind Cookston’s home. There were candy and food wrappers on the ground that matched those stolen from the various stores. Buckeye Lake police monitored the campsite for a short time, hoping Capps would return. Hanzey said the Licking County Sheriff’s Office was eventually contacted to bring a canine unit to Buckeye Lake. The police dog patrolled a large area around the campsite and tracked down Capps.

“The canine unit took him down,” said Hanzey. Officers found Capps in possession of a rifle and several bags stuffed with candy, food, and cigarettes. Hanzey said officers asked Capps where he intended to break into next, but Capps said he didn’t know and was only breaking into businesses because he was starving.

According to the sheriff’s office release, when Capps was apprehended he admitted to sheriff’s detectives that he used an alias for many years but refused to divulge his real name. Detectives ran his fingerprints through an Automated Fingerprint Identification System, which identified him as Capps and revealed he’s a registered sex offender (First degree- Child Under 14). The release states that Capps was classified as a minimum-security inmate who “walked away” from the Oklahoma prison.

Hanzey said so far Capps is charged with six counts of breaking and entering and one count of aggravated robbery because he possessed a firearm when he broke into the Valero station. He will also be charged with failure to register as a sex offender and falsification. Hanzey said he’s still receiving reports from places Capps may have entered illegally, and Capps may face additional charges. “This isn’t over yet,” said Hanzey. “It’s still an ongoing investigation.”

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