updated 10/31/2007 1:36:03 PM ET 2007-10-31T17:36:03

A pair of fugitives from a Kansas prison and a former guard accused of helping them flee were captured in New Mexico early Wednesday. The former guard, a woman, apparently had a relationship with one of the men.

The two inmates, Steven Ford and Jesse Bell, and former guard Amber Goff were taken into custody early Wednesday in Grants, about 75 miles west of Albuquerque, after one of the escapees shot at police, said Detective Moses Marquez of the Grants Police Department.

Ford and Bell escaped Sunday night from a recreation yard at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, near Wichita. Goff, 23, worked at the facility from September 2006 until this month. A vehicle traced to Goff that was found 15 miles away contained items linked to the escape, prison officials said.

Police in Grants received a call about 1:30 a.m. about "a suspicious guy looking into cars" at an apartment complex, Marquez said. When officers arrived, a witness told them two men ran into the building, Marquez said.

A foot chase ensued, and Bell was caught as he tried to jump a fence, Marquez said.

As the officers spoke with Bell, Ford fired four shots from a small-caliber handgun at them, Marquez said. The two officers did not return fire and were not hit. Ford was taken into custody without a struggle, Marquez said.

"These two guys said, 'We ain't telling you our name, we ain't telling you nothing,'" Marquez said. "But we talked to Bell and he said, 'You know what, you're gonna find out sooner or later that we're wanted in Kansas for escaping.'"

Goff was found asleep in the driver's seat of a car parked in the driveway of a vacant home with a stolen handgun under a newspaper next to her, Marquez said.

Bell, Ford and Goff were taken to the Cibola County Detention Center, were they were being held pending extradition to Kansas, Marquez said.

Authorities suspect Goff developed "an inappropriate relationship" with Ford while she was employed at the facility, prison spokesman Dale Call told The Wichita Eagle.

Ex-guard fled without telling anyone
Goff left her two sons, ages 7 and 5, with her sister before going on what she said was a dinner date Sunday night, family members said.

Goff's mother, Laurie Ann Nutter, said in a telephone interview Wednesday morning that she was relieved her daughter was found alive and apparently unharmed.

"I think I might sleep tonight," Nutter said. "It is just unbelievable. I think I have been holding my breath for three days."

Nutter on Tuesday said Goff often mentioned Ford and that she had even warned her gullible daughter not to let him sweet-talk her.

Ford, 26, is serving a sentence from Wyandotte County for robbery and indecent liberties. Bell, 33, is serving sentences from Finney, Leavenworth and Cowley counties for forgery, burglary, battery and escape.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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