Escapee caught after 13 hours

Travis Hornett

MICHIGAN CITY – About 13 hours after walking away from a work detail at the Indiana State Prison late Wednesday morning, an escapee was captured early Thursday after breaking into a vacant home in Porter County, authorities said.

Travis Hornett, 39, who was serving a five-year sentence for burglary, walked away from custody about 11:10 a.m. Wednesday, but was captured shortly after midnight in Beverly Shores, according to Indiana Department of Correction spokeswoman Margaux Auxier.

"Hornett was ultimately tracked to a vacant home he had forcibly entered as part of his effort to evade capture," she said Thursday morning. "Once confronted in the Beverly Shores home by members of the IDOC Fugitive Apprehension Unit, along with members of the Indiana State Police and other local law enforcement officers, Hornett surrendered without further resistance."

A statement from the Porter County Sheriff's office said the home where Hornett was found was "abandoned."

Michigan City Police said officers from Patrol Shift 2 took part in the apprehension.

Neither Hornett, nor any officers, were injured the during the search or recapture.

As a result of his "escape from lawful custody," Hornett is expected to be charged with escape, a Level 5 felony; and residential entry, a Level 6 felony, Auxier said.

Indiana State Police are also trying to find the owner of a backpack which they believe Hornett may have taken from a beach.

"Hornett had in his possession, when he was captured, a backpack that he acquired by unknown means while he was fleeing," ISP Sgt. Ann Wojas said. "It is believed he came into possession of the backpack from one of the local beaches in the area."

ISP Detective Mike Bailey is asking anyone who may be missing a backpack and contents to call him at 219-690-0039.

IDOC Commissioner Rob Carter praised the work of the search teams.

“We greatly appreciate the effort and assistance of the state police and local police agencies who worked side-by-side with our Fugitive Apprehension Unit to get offender Hornett back into custody.”

Hornett, a minimum security offender, “fled from a work detail on prison grounds,” Michigan City Police Chief of Services Royce Williams said.

Auxier said he was in a "low-security housing unit outside the wall" of the prison and was "discovered missing from his outside work detail." He was part of an "outside maintenance work crew.”

ISP personnel, along with the Fugitive Apprehension Unit, Indiana State Police, U.S. Marshals and local law enforcement immediately began a search and a warrant was issued for his arrest, Auxier said.

Word of the escape led to a lockdown at Knapp Elementary School, where students were attending the Safe Harbor program; and the Boys and Girls Club at the former Elston building.

Hornett – a resident of Waterloo, Indiana, about 10 miles north of Fort Wayne – was serving a five-year sentence after being convicted of Level 5 felony burglary in Dekalb County in September 2018. His projected release date was May 2021, according to IDOC.

He has a long criminal history, including arrests for burglary, drug possession, auto theft, theft, resisting, identity deception and receiving stolen property, according to court records.

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