La Tuna escapee leads authorities on 'Catch me if you can' chase
Fugitive caught after scaling twenty story building, getting stuck in trash chute
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — The U.S. Marshals were able to close a true 'Catch me if you can' case Wednesday when they located and arrested 30-year-old Donnie Lee Griffin II, from Tampa, Florida in Denver after he escaped from Federal custody in La Tuna Prison in September 2013.
Griffin was convicted for aggravated identity theft and multiple charges of fraud in a Western District Court of North Carolina in February 2012. He was sentenced to a ninety-five month (7yr, 11 month) prison term in the Bureau of Prisons and was sent to La Tuna Federal Corrections Institute in Anthony, Texas.
In September 2013, Griffin escaped La Tuna and the El Paso Based Lone Star Fugitive Task Force (LSFTF) began investigating into Griffin's whereabouts. In October 2013, an obituary was published in the Orlando Sentinel stating that Griffin had passed away and his body had been cremated.
Undeterred, investigators continued to follow leads as to Griffin's whereabouts, which ultimately led them to Denver, Colorado. In February 2014, task force officers contacted the Colorado Violent Offender Task Force (CVOTF) for help in apprehending Griffin.
The CVOTF went to an apartment building where they believed Griffin was living, the task force determined that Griffin scaled out of the twenty-story apartment window using bed sheets in an effort to elude authorities.
Griffin was later discovered after he got stuck in the trash chute in the apartment complex. Griffin was pulled out of the trash and taken into custody.
Robert Almonte, the United States Marshal for the Western District of Texas, states “This goes to show that our task force will continue their relentless pursuit of any and all fugitives. Mr. Griffin went to great lengths in an attempt to elude law enforcement, but we were still able to apprehend him. Griffin was smart, but we were smarter.”
Griffin was later booked into the Denver Justice Center where he is awaiting extradition to Texas.