LEE COUNTY, Ark. – A manhunt spread from Arkansas to Mississippi on Friday after an inmate escaped a work crew in east Arkansas.
Samuel Hartman, 38, was working with a regional field maintenance crew when he escaped Friday morning, the Arkansas Department of Corrections said.
Hartman is an inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys. ADC officials said he may be with an accomplice and may or may not have a beard.
ADC officials said that Hartman was serving a life sentence on rape charges out of Franklin County. He has been in prison since December 2013.
According to court documents, the rape involved a 9-year-old child.
Hartman has tattoos of a rose, heart, sword, “Forever & Always” and “Sam -N-Christine,” according to ADC officials.
The exact location where he was working has not been released. Authorities were seen searching in Crittenden County, Arkansas. According to Arkansas Department of Corrections, Hartman also has ties to Wyoming and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The sheriff’s office in Tunica County, Mississippi then put out an alert and said Hartman may have crossed the Mississippi River by boat. They also said he fired a weapon at Arkansas Correctional officers.
The Tunica County Sheriff’s Office says Hartman is believed to be in the Tunica County area. A vehicle was found two miles away from a casino resort area on the Arkansas side of the river in Arkansas.
Tunica Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at an address in the county but found that the violators had already left the location, police reported.
The sheriff’s office says Hartman may be traveling in a white 2021 Chevy Z71 Trail Boss with an Arkansas license plate reading 398 ZVY or no tags at all.
Arkansas State Police stated that a farmer reported having seen two abandoned jet skis on a boat ramp. The sheriff’s office found the jet skis on the boat ramp near Mhoon Landing Park in Tunica County.
“If you are traveling directly across from where we are in Tunica County to where the vehicle was abandoned in Arkansas, the jet skis would have traveled 2.5 miles south of here,” said Clara Hoover with the Tunica County Sheriff’s Office.
Officials say a cellphone and a set of keys were found on the jet skis.
Detectives believe they were used by Hartman due to where they were found.
The Arkansas Department of Corrections has named Misty Hartman and Linda Annette White as persons of interest in Hartman’s escape. Authorities say the women may be armed and dangerous.
Officials say Misty Hartman is Samuel Hartman’s sister, and White is his mother.
The jet skis are being processed by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation at this time.
Tunica County schools were placed on lockdown, the sheriff’s office said. The lockdown was later lifted, and all schools were able to dismiss at 3 p.m.
There is a large police presence on Casino Strip in Tunica County. Hoover says they are searching high and low for Hartman.
“Aerial search via helicopters, there have been drones deployed, K-9s deployed on the ground and well as manpower,” Hoover said.
All of the suspects in this case are considered armed and dangerous. If you come in contact with any of the suspects, you are urged to call 911. You can also call the East AR Regional Unit at 870-295-4700.
The Department of Corrections is also encouraging the public to visit their social media pages to receive updates and share posts with pictures of Hartman.
“Be on high alert keep your vehicles, your homes, keep everything locked at all times safe and secure,” Hoover said.