Tracking A Fugitive: Exclusive Ride-Along With Oklahoma DOC Agents
TULSA, Oklahoma - Last year, more than 200 Oklahoma fugitives were in hiding. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections assigns teams across the state to find them. And for the first time, the DOC allowed our cameras to go along with agents while they tracked a fugitive.
It's 8 a.m. inside a briefing room at the DOC headquarters in Tulsa.
"The name of the game, keeping it simple, it's to catch fugitives," said Ray Gooldy, DOC Agent. "We've got six fugitives that we're going to go after."
Gooldy is the agent in charge and is assembling three teams for a day of tracking criminals on the run.
"Priority number one is going to be Edmund Owens, been after him for a while, he's kind of like a ghost," he told the group of agents.
Edmond Owens was one of the DOC's top 15 fugitives, with known gang ties and a history of trafficking drugs.
"Information we got on Edmund Owens is that he's really close to his mom and a brother who just got out of prison," Gooldy said.
So, first, the team wants to contact Owen's mom.
"In the past, our fugitive has lived with his mom, so I wouldn't rule that out that he's still living with his mom," he said.
Before they approach the home, the agents map out a plan, not knowing if their fugitive is there or not.
"You've got to treat it as the most hostile type situation when you first go up there," said Eric Clayton, a probation parole officer.
Owen's mother is at work. The agents are greeted by Owen's sister, who says she hasn't seen her brother in months. Owens brother shows up soon after, with the same story.
"He doesn't even come around here," Owens brother told the agents.
With no sign of Owens, the team hits the street to talk with neighbors, one who said she recently saw Owens come by, driving a Charger with tinted windows.
"Inside the house there was a faint odor of marijuana," Gooldy said. "That blue Impala or Malibu was his. I think our best play is to interview mom see where that takes us."
The team moves on to a nearby nursing home where Owens mother works. But it's just another dead end.
"My gut on the brothers and the sisters that they're going to know how to get a hold of him but they're not gonna tell us," Gooldy said.
Back at the office, time is ticking away as the day is half gone. The agents hunker down to gather more information before heading back out.
"I say we hit a couple of his associates that have had recent activity and see what happens when we bug his buddies," said Seth Day, Fugitive Apprehension Agent 3, who is part of the team.
"Really it's pounding the pavement when you get that piece of information because you can sit in an office all day long and pull together bits of information but until we actually go and follow up on that, you're not going to know if it's good information that you received," said Rachael Rogers, Fugitive Apprehension Agent 3.
Out on the road again, their intelligence leads them to another home, this time where Owens' half-brother lives. But he said he hasn't heard from his brother either but believes he could be staying with a girlfriend in Tahlequah.
"Out of all the people we've interviewed today, it seemed like he was the most forthcoming," said Gooldy.
As the day ends, it's a frustrating realization that Owens is still out there, as their trail on him turns cold.
"Right now, I feel like we're just trying to find the right person that's going to help us, give up his location, said Gooldy.
While the agents didn't get Owens on this day, the law finally did catch up with him and he's back behind bars. He was among 221 fugitives captured in 2017. So far this year, the DOC Fugitive Unit has assisted in getting another 151 fugitives off the streets.
If you have information about a fugitive, contact DOC's Fugitive Hotline at 405-425-2698 or email your tip to warrants@DOC.OK.GOV