Authorities searched for a death row inmate who slipped off his handcuffs, changed into street clothes and bluffed his way out of jail by flashing a fake ID badge with a photo of himself.
Charles Victor Thompson, who was sentenced to die for killing his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend, got past at least four employees at the Harris County Jail by claiming he worked for the Texas Attorney General's office.
"He's a charming, affable, articulate guy, and I'm sure he used his charming abilities to talk his way out of the jail," Thompson's attorney, Terrence Gaiser, said on Friday. "He didn't present himself as the desperate, I'll-do-anything type."
The sheriff's department is investigating whether Thompson, 35, had inside help. Investigators found a truck on Friday that they said might be connected to the brazen escape.
Sheriff's Lieutenant John Martin said officials fear Thompson might retaliate against relatives of the woman he murdered.
"He's extremely dangerous," Martin said.
Thompson, 35, of the Houston suburb of Tomball, was condemned in 1999 for the shooting deaths a year earlier of Dennise Hayslip, 39, and Darren Keith Cain, 30.
He had been transferred to the jail in Houston because an appeals court had ordered that he be resentenced. A jury issued a new death sentence on Oct. 28, but Thompson was still waiting to be transferred back to a prison about 120km away.
On Thursday, a deputy took Thompson to a meeting room because Thompson said he had a meeting with his attorney. The visitor, however, was not Gaiser, who said he had no plans to meet Thompson that day. Investigators were questioning the visitor.
The visitor left after a short time, and once Thompson was alone he managed to remove his handcuffs and slip off his bright orange prison jumpsuit, Martin said.
Thompson then somehow left the prisoners booth in the visiting room, flashed a fake ID badge and walked out into the street.