Minnesota fugitives captured in Texas

From staff and news service reports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Three Minnesota fugitives, including one who was convicted in the murder of Claremont Police Chief Gregory Lange, were captured in southern Texas, a state Corrections Department spokeswoman said.

The men were taken into custody without incident Thursday night at the Mexican border, spokeswoman Shari Burt said. The three had been wanted since Sunday, when they failed to return to a Golden Valley halfway house after saying they were going to church.

Among the fugitives was Robert Salinas, who was convicted in 1989 of aiding and abetting second-degree murder in the killing of Lange.

Sue Lange of Kasson, widow of the chief, said today that she was happy to hear no one was hurt in Thursday's capture, but she was disappointed in Salinas.


"He was given a second chance, and (I'm) just really disappointed he didn't take the opportunity to turn his life around," Lange said. When she learned Salinas had been released from prison and into supervised probation, she said she hoped he "learned a lot while he was in prison …; but also learned to be a good, productive citizen."

She said she has learned to deal with the anger she felt after her husband was killed.

"Angry, yah, I am. But I learned there are certain things I can control and certain things I can't," she said. "I can't let the anger consume me."

Salinas, 38, and the other men -- Mauro Lopez, 38, and Jeremy Kellum, 29, both convicted of drug offenses -- allegedly stole a car. Burt said the three were caught in it.

The three men had permission to attend church in St. Paul, and they called to check in before and after the service. But when they failed to return after two hours, a corrections official was notified, said Craig Fruen, program director at Damascus Way, a halfway house that helps convicts in the transition from prison.

Under state sentencing guidelines, inmates serve two-thirds of their sentences in prison and a third under supervision while living in the community, Burt said.

Salinas received a 220-month prison sentence and began a supervised release program in October 2000 in Texas.

On July 15, he was sent to Damascus Way, where he was placed on intensive supervised release, which means he received more than the usual contact with a corrections agent.


Fruen said that Salinas was 12 days from successfully completing the Damascus Way program.

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