PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) - A convicted murderer serving a 240-month sentence at the Arkansas Department of Corrections' Pine Bluff Unit reportedly walked away from his work assignment Saturday evening, June 21. Nearly three months later, he was found.
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Preliminary investigation released by the Arkansas Department of Correction two days after the escape showed that Buffington broke into a safe room that Saturday at a house located on prison grounds and obtained a shotgun. According to Shea Wilson with ADC, the door was dead-bolted, but he managed to kick the doorframe out.
Wilson said Buffington was doing yard and janitorial work at the house. Jefferson County Sheriff's Official officials told THV11 that they believed he was armed with a backpack of ammo in addition to the shotgun. According to Wilson, the home was beyond the parameters, which is how Buffington got away. It is said to be on prison grounds but outside of the prison gates.
According to Wilson, he confronted a woman who lives at the home, and attempted to have her drive him off the prison grounds, but she was able to get away. She reportedly ran to Randall Williams Correctional Facility for help.
Since his escape, a number of individuals had reported seeing Buffington, but authorities described many of those tips as concluding in dead ends. That was until nearly three months later on Thursday, September 18, when an individual reportedly spotted Buffington in Logan County.
According to Wilson, the sighting happened about a mile east of the Sebastian County line. Just before noon Thursday, Buffington was reportedly taken into custody.
Wilson described in an email to THV11 that at around 11:30 a.m., an individual approached an Arkansas State Police roadblock at Highway 10 and Highway 60, west of Booneville, and stated that he had seen a man who might match Buffington's description. He reportedly said that he had seen the suspected escapee only a short distance away along Butler Road.
Wilson said an ASP trooper assigned to the roadblock left the area and moved to Barber Road where he spotted a man in camouflage clothing outside a home. As the state trooper approached the front yard of the home, Wilson said he asked the suspect if he was Buffington. The suspect reportedly confirmed he was, and he surrendered without any resistance.
ADC confirmed that he could face additional charges, including for his attempt to take a hostage during his escape.
Buffington had been considered a trusty inmate. Wilson said he had no previous record of escapes in 15 years behind bars.
He is said to have shot his ex-wife Rhonda Combs in the head with a rifle while she sat in her boyfriend's truck in Booneville in July of 1998. According to Wilson, he was admitted to ADC on March 12, 1999. Combs and Buffington had been in a custody dispute over their two children.
Extended interview from June with ADC's Shea Wilson:
- Listen: 911 call made by Buffington's alleged hostage (http://on.kthv.com/1mk95jo)
- A closer look at search surrounding escaped murderer (http://on.kthv.com/T4d8nZ)
- Escaped murderer still at large (http://on.kthv.com/1v42tpP)
- Man who says he spotted Buffington speaks out (http://on.kthv.com/1ms2KCj)
- Young Mississippi boy says he spotted Buffington (http://on.kthv.com/1llgXMD)
- More enhanced photos of escaped murderer released (http://on.kthv.com/1mWfh2s)
- Buffington's daughter speaks out on escape, sentence (http://on.kthv.com/1p6oLqx)