An Arkansas inmate who escaped more than a year ago while serving a life sentence for raping his 14-year-old stepdaughter was captured Tuesday along with his wife, his mother, and his mother’s boyfriend, the three of whom allegedly aided the doomed sex offender.
On Aug. 12, 2022, 39-year-old Samuel Paul Hartman was on a work detail near the East Arkansas Regional Unit when he suddenly managed to escape with the help of two allegedly armed women: His 61-year-old mother Linda Annette White and 39-year-old wife Misty Hartman.
The women allegedly opened fire in the direction of the work crew after driving up on them. After Samuel Hartman got inside the vehicle, the trio allegedly fled towards the Mississippi River, where “two pre-staged jet skis” were waiting for them, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
“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,” U.S. Marshals said. “An eyewitness on the Mississippi side of the river reported seeing one man and two women riding jet skis across the river.”
The ensuing SWAT raid of Hartman’s trailer in Tunica County came up empty.
Hartman was able to elude authorities, whether federal or local, for more than a year, and so were his alleged escape accomplices. Authorities said that the three had help from his mother’s boyfriend, 52-year-old Rodney Trent of Lester, West Virginia, who now faces felony charges for harboring the sex offender and aiding his accomplices, U.S. Marshals said.
Investigators, noting that the discovery of Linda White’s ties to Rodney Trent in West Virginia played a role in the capture of the four in Lewisburg, shared a photo of Samuel Hartman in custody. His face was bloodied and blood was visible on the hood of a squad car outside the Quality Inn where he was arrested.
Calling Hartman a “dangerous criminal,” Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal in the Eastern District of Arkansas Cory Harris credited the convicted rapist’s capture on the “tireless efforts of the U.S. Marshals fugitive task force and our law enforcement partners,” including Arkansas State Police, West Virginia’s Lewisburg Police Department, the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office, and West Virginia State Police.
Arkansas Department of Corrections records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Hartman was sentenced on Nov. 22, 2013 in the Franklin County rape case.
Although Hartman had numerous disciplinary violations on his prison record from 2017 to 2021, including for “sexual activity,” his “risk score/level” was deemed “minimum” in July 2018, DOC records indicate.
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