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Eagle-Eyed Churchgoer Helped Catch Convicted Sex Offender Who Escaped From Prison
Dianne Goatley noticed a stranger attending Sunday service at her local church and had a hunch she'd seen his face before. She was right.
Churchgoers at the Silverdale Community Church in Kansas had a surprising guest at their Sunday church service—escaped inmate Robert Terrell.
Terrell, 36, a convicted sex offender, escaped from the Winfield Correctional Facility Saturday night by climbing over a fence just three days after he had arrived at the facility, according to Fox News.
A search effort was launched by law enforcement officials, but Dianne Goatley spotted the man sitting in her usual church in the rural town of Arkansas City, Kansas.
"I walked into the church, like I said we're small and everybody has their own little spot to sit, and this guy was sitting there," she told NewsCow.net, a newspaper in Crowley County. "I walked through and spoke to everyone and turned to him and said 'good morning' or something like that and he responded."
Goatley immediately recognized the escaped inmate because she had seen his photo on Facebook the night before and had just shown her husband the photo right before they went to church.
She grabbed her phone and quietly walked to the back of the church, where she motioned to a few other people to come with her. She pulled the photo of Terrell up on her phone and showed it to the others.
"I said 'I think this is that guy.' And they said 'Oh, man ... it is. You better call," she told the paper.
Goatley stepped out and called 911. About 45 minutes later, law enforcement officers arrived, but decided to let the service conclude before apprehending Terrell.
During the service, Terrell, who was clad in baskeball shorts and a plaid shirt, took communion and sang along with the hymns, NewsCow.net reported.
After the service ended and several of the parishioners had left, law enforcement officers rushed in with their guns drawn, the paper said.
Terrell was convicted of raping a child under the age of 14 in 2002, according to the Wichita Eagle. He had been out on parole but was arrested July 3 for a parole violation and was being held in the Sedgwick County Jail before being transferred to the Winfield Correctional Facility.
[Photo: Kansas Department of Corrections]