Convicted Killer Escapes From Prison

Michael Brunner

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Convicted triple-murderer Michael Wayne
Brunner's latest attempt at freedom proved short-lived Tuesday.

Brunner, 46, escaped from the medium security Kentucky State Reformatory just before 8 a.m., but was back in custody at 10:05
a.m., after being caught in a field about three miles from the prison.

"He wasn't out very long," said Cheryl Million, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Corrections.

Brunner pleaded guilty in 1993 of killing his girlfriend and two neighbors Louisville. He is serving a life sentence with parole eligibility in 25 years for the October 1990 slayings.

The first sign of an escape attempt came at about 7:45 a.m., when an employee at the Roederer Correctional Complex, which is adjacent to the reformatory, noticed Brunner near the fence, Million said.

The prison began a head count and went on lockdown just after 9 a.m. when Brunner was classified as escaped, Kentucky State Police spokesman Chip Perry said.

More than 100 officers from the prison, state police and local agencies took part in the search. Perry said extra officers were available because a training course was taking place at the prison and the escape call went out during a shift change, when more officers than usual were on the prison grounds.

"They had a lot of additional personnel on hand," Perry said. Perry said Brunner was found in a field near U.S. 42 about three miles west of the prison. LaGrange Police Detective Bruce Goodfleisch and Oldham County Police Officer Roy Franklin found Brunner unarmed and wearing prison-issue khaki pants, a T-shirt, cap and tennis shoes, Perry said.

"He gave up with no resistance," Perry said.

Million said exactly how Brunner got out of the prison remained under investigation Tuesday. The escape attempt wasn't Brunner's first, corrections officials said.

He was also convicted in 2003 of burglary and attempted escape from the maximum security Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville, according to the Department of Corrections.

Brunner was back in the segregation unit at the prison Tuesday and will face charges related to the escape attempt, Million said.

Million said Brunner was transferred from East Kentucky Correctional Complex, a medium security prison in West Liberty, to the reformatory, which is near several residential neighborhoods, because he had a clean record for three years.

Director of Pupil Personnel for Oldham County Schools, John Mitchen, said seven area schools, including Oldham County High School, were locked down after being notified of the escape.

Brunner was charged with killing his girlfriend, Tanya Vaughn, 27, and two neighbors, James "J.C." Craig, 50, and his wife, Audrey Faye Craig, 47, in October 1990. Police at the time said Brunner was abusive to Vaughn and were called to the house they shared for a domestic violence complaint about 30 minutes before she and the neighbors were shot to death.

Brunner was sentenced to prison and, in 2003, was one of three inmates captured trying to escape from the maximum security penitentiary in western Kentucky. Prison officials said Brunner and the other two inmates used a pair of pliers to cut through an inner
fence, then used a homemade rope to climb a wall.

A security guard stopped the three men, prison officials said.

La Grange is about 22 miles east of Louisville.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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