Crime Watch: Fugitive Caught by Conversation

A Travis County man skips town the day he is to go on trial for sex crimes involving a child. 18 years go by. Then, while recently reflecting on the case, a couple of Austin police officers find the fugitive and help get him into custody. 

Corporal Troy Brown and Sgt. Robert Hawkins work for the gang unit at APD. Their job is to track and arrest those involved in organized crime.

On January 19th, they found themselves locking up a sex offender the officers once investigated nearly 20 years ago.

"We were just sitting in the office, a group of detectives and the street gang officers and we were talking about fugitives that we as a unit had been hunting recently and ideas of tracking them down and I mentioned this case,” said Brown.

In 1997, Brown, then an officer with the narcotics unit, took a call from a woman who explained that her 14-year-old son was the victim of sexual assault. It was on video and drugs were involved.

"I remember his mother being overwhelmed trying to figure out what all happened and just her being in a state of shock,” said Brown.

With multiple APD and Travis County Sheriff's Office deputies working the case, Brown helped execute a search warrant on the home of 37-year-old Jack Richard Gibson.

"I remember we seized a lot of videotapes,” said Brown.

It was Hawkins’ job to review those images.

"Just watching the videos the pattern of behavior he was engaging in, this wasn't simple narcotics sales or distribution. I mean, when you're furnishing narcotics to an underage child to further your ability to sexually assault them, that's appalling to me. That's a danger to society. It didn't look like it was his first rodeo just judging on the way he conducted himself. I imagine he's done it before. He has the potential to harm other people,” said Hawkins.

Gibson was arrested for sexual assault of a child, possession of child pornography, sexual performance by a child and manufacture/delivery of controlled substance. Yet, he posted bond.

Court records show he appeared for several pre-trial settings, but on May 22, 1998 when the case was set for trial by court, Gibson was a no show.

"The fact that he skipped out on bond and was a fugitive, I just couldn't forget about it. I couldn't forget that scene, him or that kid,” said Brown.

After explaining the case, one of Brown's officers wanted to help.

"One of the officers who works for me, Darrell Lambert, said, 'Do you mind if I check into this?' and he started digging and found that our suspect Gibson had been arrested in Rockport, Texas in 2014 for public intoxication and failure to identify, but the warrants were not executed,” said Brown.

Brown learned warrants are automatically purged every few years from a nationwide database unless re-entered. Somehow, someone didn't do that.

The warrants still showed active here in Travis County.

The Austin officers showed Rockport police. Gibson was arrested that day.  The booking time for the Aransas County Jail reads. 9:11 p.m.

"Probably from the time I told the story sitting in the office to Officer Lambert called me and told me Rockport PD called and he was in custody was about 7 hours, maybe 8,” said Brown. "It felt good. It felt good having that guy back to where he needs to be."

"I thought 'oh wow that's amazing.' What a great day,” said Hawkins.

On February 1st, Gibson was transferred to the Travis County Jail. He is being held without bond.

"I've been here 24 years now come March so I'm getting toward the end of my career and I said this is the one case I want to see resolved before I retire,” said Brown.

Now Brown has a new goal... to see Gibson in court.

Gibson is set to go before a judge for his four charges on February 16th.

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