FILE – This Feb. 3, 2019 photo released by the Conroe Police Department shows Cedric Marks is recorded after a nine-hour manhunt that began when he escaped from a prisoner transport bus in Conroe, Texas. A private prisoner transport company has told Texas officials shut down after a MMA fighter accused of two murders escaped from his of last week. (Conroe Police department via AP)
DALLAS – A private prisoner transport company has announced the closure after a MMA fighter accused in two murders escaped this month from one of the vans as they are escorted to a prison in Texas.
Texas Prisoner Transportation told Bell County officials in an e-mail last week that it would begin to wrap up the business and cease operations” on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, the new insurance rates have forced us to evaluate our activities and decide that we simply can not continue to work,” CEO Ryan Whitten wrote in an e-mail sent two days after the escape of Cedric Brands prompted a multi-agency manhunt.
The e-mail which was provided to The Associated Press by Ammy James, an assistant auditor for the Bell County Auditor’s Office makes no mention of the Brands, apart from a van that was stopped at a McDonald’s in the vicinity of Houston Feb. 3.
“We realize that this decision will lead to a burden for the prisoner transport and if we make the transition, you can continue to place orders with TPTS and we switch to alternative transportation companies to meet your transportation needs,” Whitten wrote.
On Monday, no one answered a call to the company main phone line and an assistant Whitten has not responded to a text message seeking clarification about the status of the activities of the company.
The company, based in Thrall, Texas, has not responded to questions about the escape, and the police have explained how Brands managed to loosen up while wearing the leg, hand and abdomen limitations.
The 44-year-old middleweight fighter was arrested in Michigan last month on a burglary charges in Bell County, 70 miles (110 km) north of Austin, and was extradited when he escaped. He was recaptured after about nine hours and was jailed in Bell County to a more than $ 1.75 million bond.
The same day that he escaped, Marks was charged with a capital murder in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Jenna Scott, and her friend, Michael Swearingin. The couple had missed their Texas home for more than a week, when their bodies were found in a shallow grave in Clearview, Oklahoma, on Jan. 15.
Marks has denied any role in the death, and told TV station KPRC2 that he is not trying to escape from the prison. He could not explain how he free.