IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

2 inmates who escaped from Arizona prison captured

They were found Thursday in a cotton field in Coolidge, around 14 miles away from the lockup.

Two Arizona inmates who escaped from prison around five days ago were captured in a cotton field in a nearby town Thursday morning, officials said.

John Charpiot, 49, convicted of child molestation and sexual abuse and sentenced to 35 years, and David Harmon, 61, sentenced to 100 years on kidnapping and second-degree burglary charges, were captured in Coolidge, according to authorities.

The manhunt involved door-to-door searches of around 800 homes, but it was a call to police from a man driving a truck who thought he'd spotted them that helped lead to the arrests, a Coolidge police official said. There were other calls, as well.

Image: David Harmon
Prison escapee David Harmon in custody after being recaptured in Coolidge, Ariz., on Jan. 28, 2021.Aaron Dorman / Casa Grande Dispatch via AP

"When you look at the record of both of these subjects — one of them is a home invasion rapist, while the other is a molester of children ranging from ages of 7 to 4 years old," Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert said.

"These were bad people we wanted to get off the street," he said.

Charpiot and Harmon escaped from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, about 14 miles from Coolidge. They were last seen on Saturday, authorities said. That same day they tried to rob a business in Florence, the public safety department said.

When they were confronted in the field, neither escaped inmate obeyed commands and alternatively tried to walk and run away from police before their arrest, David Gonzales, U.S. marshal for the district of Arizona, said.

Five deputy marshals had happened to be in Coolidge on an unrelated fugitive warrant and were at the police department when the call of the sighting came in, he said.

Image: John Charpiot
Inmate John Charpiot stands next to a vehicle after being arrested by a member of the Coolidge Police Dept., as he awaits transport back to the Dept. of Corrections in Coolidge, Ariz., on Jan. 28, 2021.Coolidge Police Dept.

"At one point both of them said, 'just shoot me'," Gonzales said.

Officers and marshals used Taser stun devices to subdue the inmates, he said.

Charpiot and Harmon were able to knock over a wall air-conditioning unit to get access to a locked tool room, said Frank Strada, deputy director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry.

An investigation into how they escaped is underway, he said. Police are also backtracking to trace the movements of the two inmates, Silbert said.