An escaped Santa Clara County inmate - who struggled with a deputy at the hospital last month - is awaiting extradition to San Jose, after deputies and marshals track him down to Mississippi, officials announced at a news conference Wednesday.
But there is no exact timeline when Johnell Carter, 40, arrested on five counts of child molestation, will come back to California, said Santa Clara County Sheriff's Det. Sgt. Justin Harper, the lead investigator in the case.
Harper, Sheriff Laurie Smith and Northern District US Marshal Don O'Keefe held a joint news conference on Wednesday to announce the re-arrest of Carter, who had traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi via Greyhound bus on March 11. That was five days after he escaped from a deputy supervising him at Valley Medical Center. Video surveillance from the bus station confirmed Carter had arrived in this city 2,220 miles away, O'Keefe said. Sheriff's detectives learned of his arrival two days later, Harper said, and have kept close tabs on Johnell Carter's whereabouts. He was arrested on April 7, on Prudie Street in Gulfport, Mississippi.
"He was a major priority," O'Keefe said. "Based on his escape and assault on a deputy."
Carter's brother, Joseph Carter of Lodi, helped his brother get to Mississippi, where Joseph Carter's wife has family, O'Keefe said. Joseph Carter was arrested on March 26 on suspicion of assisting his brother as an accessory after the fact by driving his brother to Reno, Nevada to get him on the bus. Joseph Carter's wife may also face legal trouble for allegedly helping, officials said.
Harper said he did not know the extent of the injuries the deputy suffered the night Johnell Carter injured him and got away while "waist-chained and handcuffed" while he was seeking some sort of medical treatment at the county-run hospital.
Sheriff Laurie Smith vowed that her department is reviewing if changes need to be made regarding jail security, though she said this was the first escape in 10 years with an annual rate of 150,000 transfers. "It's a good record," she said.
Still, she acknowledged when questioned further that she has not made any direct changes to jail policy regarding Johnell Carter's escape.
NBC Bay Area on Tuesday was the first to confirm that Carter had been taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Mississippi.