TDCJ investigation into prison escape that led to murder of family nearing completion

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 4:57 PM CDT
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LEON COUNTY, Texas (KBTX) -In a statement to KBTX, officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed that an independent review into the escape of convicted cartel killer Gonzalo Lopez is nearing completion.

Lopez is accused of murdering a family of five when they returned to their vacation home in Leon County in early June.

Prior to the murder of the Collins family, Lopez eluded law enforcement for 21 days after assaulting a TDCJ officer on a transport bus that was traveling from the Hughes Unit in Gatesville to Huntsville.

Lopez was eventually killed in a shootout with law enforcement near San Antonio.

In June Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called on the Texas Rangers to conduct an independent review of the incident and stated that there needs to be accountability and answers from state prison officials.

In his media release, Patrick said he wants the following questions answered:

  • How did the prisoner, who was handcuffed and locked in a secure cage inside the prison bus, remove his handcuffs, escape the cage and attack the driver?
  • How did the second guard in the back of the bus not see what was happening?
  • Was the prisoner fully searched as protocol required before getting on the bus?
  • How was the escapee able to elude hundreds of law enforcement, bloodhounds and air patrols for several weeks?
  • Was the community put on high alert after a cabin near the Collins family cabin was broken into a few days prior to their murder?

“We must answer these questions. We have a duty to all Texans to ensure this never happens to any family again,” said Patrick.

Mitchel Roth Ph.D., professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University says the information learned from these reports will help ensure that a situation of this magnitude doesn’t happen again not only in Texas but across the United States.

In a statement to KBTX, A spokesperson for the Texas Rangers said the investigation is active and ongoing and that further information cannot be released at this time.