SULPHUR SPRINGS — Hopkins County authorities believe they have a promising lead in their search for two inmates who escaped from the county jail on Tuesday.
Brian Allen Tucker, a 45-year-old capital murder suspect; and John Marlin King, a 40-year-old who was jailed for evading arrest; escaped about 8:30 Tuesday morning.
Sulphur Springs police responded to a house break-in on Houston Street late Wednesday afternoon. The homeowners reported that their vehicle was stolen — along with a .22-caliber gun.
Sulphur Springs police Chief Jim Bayuk told News 8 just before 6 p.m. Wednesday he was "fairly certain" that the thefts were perpetrated by the escapees.
The gun is described as a nickel-plated Derringer. The vehicle is a black 2010 Saturn Vue with Texas plates CR6D425.
Police warned the public not to approach the vehicle because the escapees are considered armed and dangerous. Call 911 instead.
The Hopkins County Jail was still on lockdown more than 36 hours after the breakout. News 8 learned the two men may have found an easy way out of the facility by way of a chain link fence.
"They were able to manipulate the joint where it comes together, and they were able to unscrew the bolts and pry the fencing back," explained Sgt. Brad Cummings of the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office.
A lone guard was watching the two men at the time.
Sgt. Cummings said the jail has passed prior state inspections, but now the security of the recreation area will be reviewed as a part of the escape investigation.
Instead of more public searching on Wednesday, investigators focused on following up leads and tips from the public.
With the search well into its second day, people in the community were still uneasy.
The lunch hour rush was back on at the Pioneer Cafe after a slow day on Tuesday. Owner Barbara Palmer said fear kept customers away on the day of the escape.
"I think what's concerning them is the fact that the two men who escaped have absolutely nothing to lose," Palmer said.
Palmer holds a concealed carry license, and says most of her neighbors are armed, too. If the inmates are still in the area, she said they should think twice before committing any additional crimes to maintain their life on the run.
"I've gotten several e-mails from different people, and it said, 'Due to the increased cost of ammunition, there will not be a warning shot,'" she said.
Investigators issued a warning of their own, saying anyone caught helping the escapees will be prosecuted.
A reward for the capture of Tucker and King has been increased from $1,000 to $5,000.
Deputies also released new photographs of Tucker on Wednesday. One shows a tattoo on the back of his head that reads "Drop Dead." The other is a more recent photo showing Tucker with a shaved head and tattoos covering his forearms.