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Escaped Inmate Arrested in Fla.

December 6, 1997

OWATONNA, Minn. (AP) _ A prison inmate was caught getting off a bus in Chicago, 36 hours after he escaped when inmates in a van overpowered a guard who stopped to eat. He took a couple hostage overnight and later hitched a ride out of town, police said.

Homer Land, of Panama City, Fla., was arrested without incident at about 10:45 p.m. Friday. Authorities said he was believed to be headed to Montgomery, Ala., where he originally lived.

Land, 40, convicted of a 1992 aggravated battery in Florida, was one of 11 inmates in a prison transport van that stopped for lunch Thursday at a Burger King in Owatonna, about 60 miles south of Minneapolis.

One guard went inside to order food for the prisoners, and the other was overpowered and thrown from the van when he left the door open so the prisoners could smoke.

The inmates nearly ran over one guard as they drove off, acting Owatonna Police Chief Gene Fisher said.

The van was found four to five blocks away with eight prisoners inside. Two other convicts were captured within 15 to 20 minutes. The guard was not injured.

Meanwhile, the couple found Land in their house in Owatonna when they came home from work Thursday evening, police said.

Police had few details about how the couple was held overnight. After Land took them driving in their car this morning, they escaped when Land stopped at a gas station near Northfield, about 25 miles from Owatonna, to get cigarettes.

The car was later found abandoned a few miles away.

The couple was shaken but unhurt.

Two Rochester-area men said Land approached them at a restaurant and offered them $20 for a ride to the Greyhound bus depot in Minneapolis.

Once the men got to Minneapolis, they said Land got out to walk to the depot.

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