HOUSTON – Today, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued the following statement:
“Today, I sent a letter requesting an investigation by the Texas Rangers into how a convicted killer was able to escape Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) custody, elude capture for 21 days, and perpetrate the brutal murder of Mark Collins and his 4 grandsons on June 2.
“On Saturday, I attended their funerals. The boys were aged 18, 16, 11 and 11. This crime was preventable and should never have happened.
“Mark and his four grandsons traveled to their cabin in Leon County. A man serving life in prison for capital murder had escaped and had been on the run for 21 days in the area. He murdered Mark and his 4 grandsons in cold blood before stealing their truck. Later that night, he was killed in a shootout with police in Atascosa County, about 200 miles away.
“There are several basic questions that I want the Texas Rangers’ investigation to answer:
- How did the prisoner, who was handcuffed and locked in a secure cage inside the prison bus, remove his handcuffs, escape the cage and attack the driver?
- How did the second guard in the back of the bus not see what was happening?
- Was the prisoner fully searched as protocol required before getting on the bus?
- How was the escapee able to elude hundreds of law enforcement, bloodhounds and air patrols for several weeks?
- Was the community put on high alert after a cabin near the Collins family cabin was broken into a few days prior to their murder?
“As to the cabin that was broken into days before the murder, fingerprints and DNA samples were taken, but results were not expected back for 48 hours. By the time the results came back with a positive match to the escapee, it was too late for the Collins family.
“This is a crime that was preventable on several levels and should never have happened. My request for investigation is not about affixing blame, but rather to ensure TDCJ procedures and protocols are adequate and always followed. There must be accountability.
“TDCJ is a huge agency. There are over 100,000 inmates in the Texas state prison system along with thousands of employees. It appears that somewhere down the line mistakes were made.
“TDCJ has already announced and made changes effective immediately to their protocol of moving dangerous criminals in the future. TDCJ is also conducting an internal investigation. However, I want an independent investigation of the escape and what occurred during those 21 days that resulted in the murder of this precious family.
“The Collins family is a strong Christian family. Their bold and remarkable testimony about their faith, despite this unimaginable devastation to their family, was amazing and inspiring to the 4,000 people who attended the funeral.
“We must answer these questions. We have a duty to all Texans to ensure this never happens to any family again.”