Escaped Texas Inmate Killed as Authorities Probe Murders of Five: Police

An escaped convict was quickly captured and killed after Texas officials linked him to the murder of family of five on Thursday.

A Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) official said that the bodies of three children and two adults were discovered on Thursday in a home near where Gonzalo Lopez had escaped on May 12, according to Texas CBS affiliate KBTX. His death was announced hours later. Police said that they captured Lopez, who was serving a life sentence for murder, three weeks after allegedly slicing through a metal barrier, stabbing a correctional officer and escaping on foot as he was being transported by bus to a medical appointment.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) said in a release shared to social media on Thursday night that the bodies of the five apparent homicide victims were discovered inside the Lopez search perimeter, which has been focused on Centerville, a small city located roughly 120 miles north of Houston and about 120 south of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Authorities confirmed that Lopez, 46, was a suspect in the killings and described him as a "former Mexican mafia gang member" during a press conference.

Shortly after the press conference ended, the Leon County Sheriff's Office shared that Lopez had been "captured" on social media, promising that "more information" would follow soon. Roughly 20 minutes later, an update to the post noted that Lopez was "deceased."

Gonzalo Lopez Escaped Convict Murder Suspect Police
Police have captured escaped convict Gonzalo Lopez after tying him to the deaths of five people whose bodies were discovered on Thursday night in Centerville, Texas. Police vehicles are pictured with flashing lights in this undated file photo. MattGush/Getty

"While investigating leads inside the search perimeter, law enforcement agencies received a call from an individual who had become concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative," the TDCJ release states. "Law enforcement officers responded to the residence and discovered the bodies of two adults and three children."

"A 1999 white Chevrolet Silverado, license plate DPV4520, was missing from the residence," it continues. "It is believed that escaped inmate, Gonzalo Lopez, may be driving the vehicle and may be armed."

Photos of the missing truck and Lopez displaying his tattoos were included in the release. Authorities offered a $50,000 reward for Lopez's capture. Members of the public were urged to immediately dial 911 if they spotted Lopez. Details about his reported capture and subsequent death were unclear as of Thursday night.

Law enforcement agents conducted a helicopter-aided search of the area where the victims were found, according to KBTX. Highway 7, the road that Lopez was traveling on when he escaped, was closed to traffic west of Centerville.

Few additional details about the identity of the victims had been released at the time of publication. TDCJ officials said that Lopez was not related to the family, who were from the Houston area, during Thursday night's press conference.

Robert Hurst, a TDCJ public information officer, told The New York Times last month that Lopez was "very dangerous," noting that his extensive criminal record included convictions for killing a man with a pickax and attempting to kill a sheriff's deputy.

"The most notable thing is that he killed a guy with a pickax," Hurst said. "We will not call off the search until we find him."

Hurst told Houston CBS affiliate KHOU last week that Lopez was "crafty" and had previously escaped from custody in South Texas' Webb County, where he "he hid out for almost nine days."

Newsweek reached out to the TDPS and the TDCJ for comment.