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New Charges Filed Against 2 of 7 Texas Escapees

From Associated Press

New charges of robbery have been filed against two of the seven convicts who escaped together earlier this month from a Texas prison, and officials have posted a $100,000 reward for their capture.

Since their Dec. 13 escape, when the seven fugitives loaded up with an arsenal of prison guards’ weapons, they are suspected of robbing a store near Houston and killing a police officer during a robbery near Dallas on Christmas Eve.

Five of the fugitives were believed to have been spotted Thursday at a fast-food restaurant near Dallas, but most of the leads received on the men’s whereabouts have gone nowhere, law enforcement officials said.

“We hope the high reward money will entice those people who have been assisting them in traveling and hiding,” prison spokesman Larry Todd said Saturday. “We believe these are the same people who helped them make good on the escape.”

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The ringleader is believed to be George Rivas, an armed robber whom prosecutors have called “one of the most dangerous men in Texas.”

On Friday, aggravated robbery charges were filed against Rivas and Donald Keith Newbury, 38, in connection with the Dec. 15 robbery of a Radio Shack in Pearland, a Houston suburb. Victims said the men tied up store employees and customers and then looted the store and the victims’ pockets.

The Pearland robbery was similar to the Christmas Eve heist in Irving, where two dozen employees were tied up in the back of an Oshman’s sporting goods store. Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins was killed when he approached the robbers behind the store.

The Irving Police Department is offering the $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those responsible for Hawkins’ death.

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Rivas, 30, was involved in more than a dozen robberies in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona from 1987 to 1994. He was finally caught after a three-hour standoff in El Paso and was sentenced to 99 years.

Texas authorities won’t discuss any leads they are pursuing or what security measures they are taking for the fugitives’ victims and prosecutors. Some relatives are clearly frightened.

A couple who years ago adopted one member of the group, 23-year-old Randy Halprin, have fled the state with their two preteen children, afraid that he might try to return to their home in Dalworthington Gardens, near Fort Worth. Halprin was serving 30 years for injury to a child.

Relatives of another of the fugitives, Patrick Henry Murphy Jr., went on television in Dallas on Thursday night, pleading for him to surrender. Murphy was serving 50 years for aggravated sexual assault with a deadly weapon and burglary in Dallas.

“Patrick, wherever you are, just please stop this violence and turn yourself in,” said a tearful Kristina Rogers, Murphy’s younger half sister. “You know you weren’t raised to do this. Just stop the pain that the family is going through.”

The other escapees are Michael Rodriguez, 38, serving a life sentence for capital murder in San Antonio; Larry Harper, 37, serving 50 years for aggravated sexual assault in El Paso; Joseph Garcia, 29, serving 50 years for murder in San Antonio; and Newbury, serving 99 years for aggravated robbery.


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