Things are quiet on the crime front in Austin today, so let us cast our net a little wider and head East towards Houston, where police are searching for Arcade Comeaux Jr., 49, a hitherto wheelchair bound child rapist who escaped while in transit from Huntsville to Beaumont Monday.
Leaving Hunstville at 5:15 am Comeaux surprised his two armed guards forty five minutes later when he pulled out a gun and ordered them to transport him to Baytown, 40 miles east of Houston. Until this moment Comeaux had been confined to a wheelchair, having earlier suffered a stroke that had left him paralyzed. In fact the humane prison authorities were transferring Comeaux to Beaumont so that he could be close to John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, that he migh more easily receive treatment. The necessity of treatment became moot however the 6 ft tall 200 pound Comeaux calmly stepped up and out of his wheelchair, took the guards' guns and, upon arriving in Baytown at 9am, escaped on foot into the early morning light.
Was this a miraculous healing? Senator John Whitmyre (D) of Houston is skeptical. "There's a theory working that he staged the whole thing. He's a con; he's a manipulator, and he's outfoxing the people who are charged with the responsibility of keeping him securely incarcerated."
Meanwhile state prison authorities are confronted with multiple embarrassments. How did Comeaux acquire a pistol while incarcerated? How did he fool so many people, including doctors, for so long? And why was the state so forgiving of so enthusiastic a criminal? CNN report that Comeaux's prison career began at age 19 in 1979, when he received three 10-year sentences for rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child and burglary. He was released a mere four years later in 1983. Indecency with a child returned him to prison in 1984, this time with a twenty year sentence. He was released seven years later, in June 1991. Parole violations landed him back inside after only four months of freedom, but once again the state was forgiving and let him out after he had served a further four inside. In December 1993, parole violations landed him in jail again; but he was released slightly more than two years later, in February 1996. Comeaux then committed yet another sexual assault which at last saw him returned to prison for life in June 1998. Even then he managed to stab his wife 17 times during a contact visit in July 1999 (he pinned her to the wall with his wheelchair). When another prison visitor tried to intervene, Comeaux stabbed him also. Both victims survived. Comeaux received two additional life sentences.
And now he is a free man again.
Speaking to CNN Comeaux's mother Joyce said that she is concerned for the fate of her boy, the third of eleven children. She wants him to return home "so that I can talk to him, give him a good meal, a good bath, and send him back where he come from."