Wanted Santa Clara County escaped prisoner located in Gulfport, Mississippi
SANTA CLARA COUNTY – Update: According to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, “Escaped Inmate Johnell Carter arrested in Mississippi with help of US Marshals.” The escaped child rape suspect was located in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Carter is currently awaiting extradition from Harrison County to California, where he will face five counts of child molestation, charges from back in March of 2014. He will now face new charges alleging the assault on a sheriff’s deputy while fleeing from custody of the County’s Elmwood Corrections Facility in Milpitas. He was being transported for medical treatment at the time.
Carter absconded from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Deputy just days before he was scheduled to attend pre-trial proceedings, in which he faced a possible life sentence for charges that he molested a 9-year-old girl relative over a two year period of time.
During a ten minute press briefing Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said, “The Sheriff’s department is working this investigation with the U.S. Marshalls office.” Smith said, “This is not something that just happened in Santa Clara County, this was nationwide.”
U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of California Donald O’Keefe said, “On March 6, 2015 Johnell Lee Carter escaped from the custody of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office during a scheduled medical appointment at Valley Medical Center.” O’Keefe said, “Following the escape, a joint task force was put together consisting of the U.S. Marshals Service and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.”
It was revealed that Johnell had broken free from the deputy while waist chained and handcuffed, but was able to walk freely. It was during the ten hour manhunt that Carter had contacted his younger brother Joseph Carter III, on Sunday, March 8. It was then that the Joseph took his brother to Reno and helped him board a Greyhound Bus to Gulfport, Mississippi, where Johnell connected with Joseph’s wife Lakeisha Carter on Wednesday, March 11. Johnell used his brother’s name on his bus ticket.
On Tuesday, April 7, a tip was given to the task force reporting that Johnell and Lakeisha were staying together in a duplex located at 12210 Prudie Circle in Gulfport. A search warrant was issued and the Gulfport task force tried to enter the residence. However, as they moved in through the front door, Johnell tried to escape through the rear door. Following a brief foot chase, the U.S. Marshals Service and Harrison County Deputies were able to take Johnell Carter into custody.
O’Keefe said, “On March 17, 2015, Joseph Carter III was arrested for harboring, aiding and abetting a fugitive.” His wife Lakeisha was also taken into custody on Tuesday, April 7. O’Keefe said, “A warrant was obtained by the Sheriff’s Office of Santa Clara County, and in addition, the U.S. Marshals Service obtained a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution with the Federal Courts here in San Jose.”
Johnell’s escape from the Deputy brought up questions about how this could have happened. Lead investigator in this case, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Homicide Detective Justin Harper said, “The Sheriff’s office policies and procedures are obviously constantly under review in order to determine better ways to handle things in the future. Obviously we can’t prepare for everything that might arise, but when things do happen, everything’s under review.”
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said ”We transport 150,000 people per year.” She added “We have not had anyone escape from our transportation unit in ten years.” Transportation by the Sheriff is under review, but it is expected that no changes will be made.
Smith said, “We focused a lot of energy to get this person back into custody because we knew he was a danger to the public.” Detective Harper said, “We had the family immediately under surveillance from the time that he escaped until Johnell L.Carter was apprehended.” However, he said, Joseph Carter was not under surveillance when he drove his brother to the Greyhound Bus Line in Reno during the first few hours of his escape.