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Fugitive recaptured in Louisiana


Fugitive recaptured in Louisiana

December 16, 2005

Mason Lerner

The Daily News

A Bastrop County man wanted for sexual assault of a minor who police say faked his death during a trip to Galveston County was in a Louisiana jail Thursday.

Stephen Douglas James, who jumped bail on an aggravated sexual assault warrant and fled Texas before being arrested and released in New Orleans last week, was back in custody.

James, 49, is also wanted for question in Galveston County, where authorities believe he attempted to fake his death to avoid prosecution.

Authorities said James, an avid fisherman, traveled to Galveston regularly. His severed finger was found in a Bolivar Peninsula motel room on Aug. 6, 2004. A suicide note was taped to the door along with a picture of the millstone James claimed he would use to drown himself. Investigators later found his kayak floating near the mouth of the Houston Ship Channel.

Bastrop County District Attorney Brian Goertz said he was beside himself when he found out the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office allowed James to bond out shortly after officers picked him up on the original warrant.

“I knew the gig was up,” Goertz said, who said Louisiana officials offered little help in tracking James down. “I had nothing to do but think.”

Goertz finally decided that if appealing to the Orleans Parish to search for the suspect wouldn’t work, maybe something else would.


Goertz found the bail bondsman that bonded James out of jail in New Orleans and gave her a call.

“If I was looking to wreak havoc on her that day, it worked,” he said.

Goertz said the bondsman was so shaken by the news of the man she had risked $50,000 on — he was wanted in Texas on charges that could get him life in prison — that she assured Goertz her next call would be to a bounty hunter.

At 12:05 a.m. Sunday, Goertz got a call from the bounty hunter telling him James was in custody.

James was in a Louisiana prison facility awaiting extradition. Goertz said James is fighting attempts to bring him back to Texas.

Goertz said until James was recaptured, he feared he would have to wait for another fluke to snag the fugitive.

“I was ecstatic,” he said about getting the call from the bounty hunter. “It was just poetic justice.”

2005 Dec 16