Child rapist who escaped prison on jet ski captured after year on run
Published 9:32 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023
The U.S. Marshals, along with West Virginia State Police, Lewisburg Police Department and Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office, Tuesday arrested at the Quality Inn in Lewisburg, West Virginia, a man who escaped from an Arkansas prison facility in 2022.
Samuel Paul Hartman, 39, an inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit, was sentenced to life in 2013 after being convicted of raping his 14-year-old stepdaughter, but he escaped on a work detail in a field near the detention facility.
Also taken into custody were Hartman’s wife Misty Hartman, 39, his mother Linda Annette White, 61, and White’s boyfriend Rodney Trent, 52, of Lester, West Virginia. Both women are alleged to have helped Hartman escape using a pickup truck and jet skis. Trent faces felony charges for allegedly harboring a sex offender and for assisting the trio while on the run.
While Hartman was on a work detail Aug. 12, 2022, a vehicle approached the work crew, and two women, later identified as Linda White and Misty Hartman, exited the vehicle and fired several shots toward the work crew as inmate Hartman ran to the awaiting vehicle. The vehicle then fled as DOC officers pursued. DOC pursued the vehicle to the area just short of the Mississippi river where all three fled to two pre-staged jet skis.
After a short time, law enforcement officers from Mississippi and Arkansas went to the Mississippi side of the river and located the abandoned jet skis on the riverbank. An eyewitness on the Mississippi side of the river reported seeing one man and two women riding jet skis across the river.
In March, USMS investigators from the agency’s Cold and Complex Case Unit paired up with investigators from the Eastern District of Arkansas to find the three. Investigators developed information that Linda White had ties to West Virginia and contacted the Southern District of West Virginia for assistance in the case.
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a year of outstanding, dedicated work by our heroic law enforcement officers. Now that they have brought this dangerous fugitive to justice, all Arkansans can sleep safer at night,” said Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“Today’s capture was the result of deliberate and determined law enforcement work,” said Joe Profiri, Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Corrections. “The United States Marshals Service, Arkansas State Police, and the Arkansas Department of Corrections have kept this case on the forefront and followed hundreds of leads over the course of the last year. We appreciate the support and assistance from all agencies involved, the Arkansas Governor’s office, and the State of West Virginia in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”
“In my nearly 30 years of law enforcement, I cannot recall a task force that has the level of dedication to accomplishing the mission and making our communities safer than that of CUFFED (Cops United Felony Fugitive Enforcement Division Task Force),” said Michael Baylous, U.S. Marshal for the Southern District of West Virginia. “The apprehension of these dangerous fugitives demonstrates the close and outstanding relationship that CUFFED enjoys with our local and state partners, other USMS Districts, and the USMS Domestic Investigations Branch.”
“Attempts to evade justice for this dangerous criminal ended today thanks to the tireless efforts of the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force and our law enforcement partners,” said Cory Harris, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Arkansas.