Work crew escapee still on the loose

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 28, 1999

Authorities believe a Concordia Parish work crew escapee swam the Mississippi River and stole a car in Natchez.

Travis J. Dupre, 21, of Montegut, La., in Terrebonne Parish was seen by authorities near his hometown at around 10 p.m. Monday.

&uot;I think he’s still around,&uot; said Chief of Operations Godfrey Buquet of the Terrebonne Sheriff’s Department.

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Deputies were still looking for Dupre Tuesday evening, Buquet said.

Dupre was with the inmate work crew at T.L. James Co. site in Vidalia when he walked away Monday afternoon, said Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell.

The crew supervisors noticed Dupre was gone while the prisoners were being fed lunch.

He had been gone about 10 to 15 minutes before the search began, Maxwell said.

Dupre was serving time for a simple burglary charge in Terrebonne Parish.

Maxwell described Dupre as non-violent.

&uot;He’s not considered dangerous to anyone,&uot; he said.

&uot;He is a first-time offender who had just found out that his wife is planning to divorce him.&uot;

But Buquet said Terrebonne Parish officials do consider him dangerous.

&uot;He’s not the kind of guy you can trust,&uot; Buquet said. &uot;He shouldn’t have been on a work crew to start with.&uot;

The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Department notified Vidalia Junior High because of its vicinity to the escape.

Officers were also sent to the school, Maxwell said.

But officials believe Dupre quickly left the area.

&uot;It’s apparent now that Dupre swam the Mississippi River and went over to Natchez where he stole a car from the parking lot of The Natchez Democrat,&uot; Maxwell said.

The car was open and the keys were left inside, Maxwell said.

&uot;I don’t think this was planned or that anyone helped him with his escape,&uot; Maxwell said. &uot;He just took off. I really think he just headed home.&uot;

Officials in Terrebonne Parish had been told to be on the look out for Dupre.

Officials got an idea of his whereabouts after Dupre tried to contact family.

&uot;He had paged a relative,&uot; Buquet said.

Dupre abandoned the car, a Chevy Cavalier, south of Houma, after being spotted by law enforcement.

He then swam across a bayou before getting lost in the brush, Buquet said.

Officials used dogs to track Dupre but lost track of him around around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Buquet said.

This is not the first time the Terrebonne Sheriff’s Department has had problems with Dupre.

He was accidentally released on bond this year after Terrebonne officials were not told Dupre was to have been held as a state inmate, Buquet said.

The Concordia&160;Parish Sheriff’s Department has ceased all work crews and are looking into its policies on its 150 daily work crew participants, Maxwell said.

&uot;We are attempting to revise and revamp all policies for the utmost in security,&uot; Maxwell said. &uot;Anytime you work this many people, there’s always a risk of someone walking off.&uot;