LANCASTER, Texas (AP) _ A murder warrant was issued Wednesday for a transient who was staying at a house where three women were hacked to death with a knife and hatchet.

David Martin Long, who left the house Saturday in a station wagon owned by one of the slain women, was charged with capital murder in a warrant signed by a state district judge, said Steve Harris, assistant city manager in this suburban city.

Authorities believe Long sped south on Interstate 45, where he was jailed about 100 miles away in Leon County for investigation of drunken driving.

Long, 34, had been released from jail Monday morning on a $580 bond before the grisly murder scene was discovered and an all-points bulletin was released with a description of the stolen car.

Long was believed to have hitchhiked to Houston after his release about 10 a.m. Monday.

Leon County sheriff's dispatcher Bob Gresham in Centerville, halfway between Dallas and Houston, said the department didn't know about the triple slaying when it freed Long. He said Long's driver's license showed an address in Bay City, a Houston suburb.

The victims were identified as Donna Sue Jester, 37; her cousin, Dalpha Lorenne Jester, 64, who was blind and bedridden; and Laura Lee Owen, 20, a transient whom Donna Jester picked up hitchhiking and brought to the house.

All suffered multiple knife and-or hatchet wounds on the head and neck, officials said.

''We feel like the steak knife was used first and that the hatchet was used as a weapon of convenience,'' Lancaster Police Chief John Whitehead said.

Authorities said the suspect apparently was, like Ms. Owen, a transient who had been living at the house where the murders occurred.

A diary kept by Donna Jester spoke of a romantic relationship that had developed between the man and Ms. Owen after both came separately to live at the Jester house in early September, Whitehead said.

''She said they hit it off,'' Whitehead said.

Officials estimated the three women were killed Saturday evening, probably after a quarrel between Donna Jester and Long.

''We feel like Laura was not at the house at that time, that only Donna Sue and Ms. Jester were there. We believe that Laura was coming into the house after they were killed and confronted the killer, that she turned to escape and was caught outside,'' Whitehead said.