FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — On the morning of August 12, officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections said that inmate Samuel Hartman, 38, escaped from the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys.
According to the ADC, Hartman escaped from his field maintenance crew assignment on Arkansas Highway 79 and fired a weapon at officers. Deputies from the Tunica County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Office said that they believe there was a vehicle located on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River.
Arkansas State Police stated that a farmer reported seeing two abandoned jet skis on a boat ramp. Deputies found the jet skis abandoned on a boat ramp near Mhoon Landing Park, and they said that they believe that Hartman used the jet skis.
All schools in Tunica County are on lockdown and all local businesses are on high alert as authorities hunt for Hartman.
Hartman was serving a life sentence on rape charges out of Franklin County. In 2013, he was arrested for raping his stepdaughter, a minor under the age of 14.
A 2013 affidavit for Hartman’s arrest warrant said that Franklin County Sheriff’s Office investigators interviewed him on May 6, 2013. He was read his Miranda Rights and agreed to speak with investigators.
During that interview, he admitted to having sexual contact with his stepdaughter on more than one occasion. After the interview, he was allowed to use the phone and took the investigator’s digital recorder and deleted the interview. In addition to rape, he was subsequently charged with tampering with physical evidence.
Hartman was convicted of rape in November 2013. He filed multiple appeals, which were heard in the Arkansas Supreme Court due to his life sentence. The result was having a lesser charge vacated, which did not affect his sentence.
In February 2017, the state Supreme Court denied his final attempt at a re-hearing. He began serving his prison sentence at the East Arkansas Regional Unit, about 17 miles southeast of Forrest City, on December 2, 2013.
The facility was established in 1992 and has a capacity of 1,432 male inmates. Operations there include jail operations, education, a substance abuse treatment program, a canine unit, field crops and regional maintenance.
Two women were named as persons of interest in the escape by ADC and are “believed to be assisting” Hartman. Authorities stated that they may be armed and dangerous.
Anyone with information about Hartman’s whereabouts is asked to call 911 or contact ADC at 870-295-4700.