Officers on heightened alert


— The Routt County Sheriff's Office and Steamboat Springs Police Department certainly weren't the only agencies on alert for the two remaining members of the "Texas Seven" Tuesday.

Law officers across the Western Slope were on the lookout all day for two fugitives who escaped with five other felons from a Texas prison Dec. 13.

Until noon Tuesday, authorities believed the two men might be driving a brown van, which meant similar vehicles drew special attention.

"We were chasing down just about every brown van that matched the description," said Sgt. Roy Kinney of the Rio Blanco County Sheriff's Department.

State Trooper Brad Keadle, who patrols Routt County, said he followed a brown van for about a mile Monday night near Steamboat II, until a check of the license plate showed that it wasn't the fugitives' vehicle.

"Here in rural America, we had heightened our senses last night because we knew there were some guys on the loose with a lot of guns and ammunition who didn't want to be caught," Keadle said.

A state trooper in Summit County who was following up on a tip about a brown van died in a car accident Tuesday when his cruiser ran into a parked truck on Interstate 70.

The van he was following turned out to be filled with construction workers. The actual brown van used by the two Texas prison escapees to flee Woodland Park was found abandoned in a motel parking lot Tuesday in Colorado Springs.

Moffat County dispatcher Nikki Zulian said deputies there weren't doing anything out of the ordinary to try to track down the fugitives. However, sheriff's spokeswoman Jill Berman said Summit County law officers and residents were definitely in a heightened state of awareness Tuesday.

Four of the seven Texas fugitives were arrested Monday in Woodland Park.

A fifth fugitive killed himself in an RV in that small mountain town outside of Colorado Springs.

The final two fugitives rapist Patrick Murphy Jr., 39, and armed robber Donald Newbury, 38 are still at large and believed to be armed and extremely dangerous.


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