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Washington State Escapees Caught After Stolen Vehicle Spotted

March 28, 1988

SHELTON, Wash. (AP) _ Three prison escapees, including a triple murderer, were back in custody today after allegedly stealing three vehicles, robbing a family and stealing a handgun, authorities said.

No injuries were reported in the crime spree Sunday.

Sheriff’s officers who had been on the lookout for the inmates since they escaped Wednesday spotted them on U.S. 101 near Shelton when their southbound car abruptly turned and headed north, said Lt. Howard Armfield of the Mason County Sheriff’s Department.

With officers in pursuit, the car veered off the highway and onto Washington 3, where it was surrounded by five sheriff’s vehicles just outside of Shelton, about 15 miles northwest of Olympia.

The prisoners left the car peacefully with their hands behind their heads, leaving the stolen weapon stuffed under a car seat, Armfield said.

″They didn’t have anywhere to go and they knew it,″ he said. ″They apparently weren’t out to hurt anybody. All they were out for was a ride.″

The inmates were taken to the county jail before being transferred back to the Washington Corrections Center.

″It was real apparent they didn’t have any outside help and they didn’t have a plan,″ Sheriff Bob Holter said. ″We didn’t know they were still here.″

The men escaped Wednesday night after apparently scaling a chain link fence topped with three feet of razor-sharp ″ribbon wire″ near an unoccupied guard tower, prison spokeswoman Barbara Lovelace said.

The inmates hid in a shed near a family’s home, Armfield said. Armed with a gun they found in the shed, they confronted the family, robbed them and stole their truck, he said. They later stole two other cars.

The inmates likely will face first-degree escape charges, three counts each of grand theft and three counts each of armed robbery, Armfield said.

Sean Stevenson, 17, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother, stepfather and sister. He was serving a life term without possibility of parole.

With him were Gary Curtis Van Winkle, 17, of Seattle, convicted of attempted murder and burglary in King County and Patrick J. Rice, 23, of North Bend, convicted of second-degree burglary and one count of taking a motor vehicle without permission.

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