Randy Snodgrass

Parsons Sun

The sex offender who escaped from a transport van Monday after attacking the driver with a plastic dinner knife has been captured.

Sgt. Rian Lahey of the Neosho County Sheriff’s Department arrested Randy E. Snodgrass, 58, on K-47 near Ness Road at 1:30 am Tuesday. Snodgrass, who eluded authorities for more than 12 hours after jumping out of the Parsons State Hospital and Training Center van, was found walking westbound on the highway. A traveler reported seeing a suspicious person on the highway and called the sheriff. Lahey responded and arrested Snodgrass without incident, according to Neosho County Undersheriff Greg Taylor. Snodgrass is in the Neosho County Jail on a Kansas Department of Corrections warrant for a parole violation. He is listed on the KDOC website as an absconder. He likely will remain in Neosho County until charges are filed in Labette County.

The Labette County Sheriff’s Department is seeking charges of aggravated escape from custody, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and aggravated kidnapping.

Around noon Monday, a van driven by a state employee with Snodgrass as the only passenger was returning to the PSHTC campus in Parsons after Snodgrass completed a job interview. Snodgrass was in the state’s sexual predator treatment program and has been in Parsons since Dec. 20, 2019.

Snodgrass was not handcuffed during the transport and sat in the front passenger seat, according to Labette County Sheriff Darren Eichinger. Eichinger did not know where the job interview was.

On US-400 just before making the right turn onto Ness Road, Snodgrass is alleged to have ordered the female driver to pull over. He held a plastic knife to her neck and threatened to hurt her. A struggle ensued and the female driver received minor injuries that required treatment at Labette Health. Snodgrass jumped out of the van. The state employee jumped out and retrieved her cell phone from the back seat and got back in the van and locked the doors, Eichinger said.

“(Snodgrass) took off at that point,” Eichinger said, and the state employee called 911.

The first bulletin on Snodgrass’ escape was broadcast just after noon Monday.

Snodgrass was last seen running north from Ag Choice. The Labette and Neosho County sheriff, the Kansas Highway Patrol and Parsons police searched the area and followed up on various reports of people seeing a man matching Snodgrass’ description in the area.

Neosho County Undersheriff Taylor said Snodgrass told Sgt. Lahey that he followed the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to the north into Neosho County and eventually walked west, finding K-47. Taylor said deputies are following up today and checking on residents who live near the general route that Snodgrass reportedly took to make sure they are OK and that no property is missing. He said Snodgrass did not appear to have injuries and was still wearing his black hooded sweatshirt and black pants.

As part of the state’s sexual predator treatment program, residents in the final phases before community reintegration may live at Parsons State Hospital in Maple or Willow cottages, which can house 16. In October, the cottages housed six residents.

The sexual predator program has three tiers through which residents progress, with the third tier geared toward reintegration into the community. Residents in tier three demonstrate financial stability, look for and find work, and arrange for transportation, according to a summary of the program provided by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, which oversees state hospitals. After the three tiers, residents enter transitional release and then, finally, conditional release. In transitional release, residents remain in state reintegration housing units at Larned, Osawatomie or PSHTC, but they are working toward being independent and returning to live and work outside of state custody. Part of the program in the transitional phase is finding and maintaining work, seeking out community housing, and participating in counseling so residents can move into the conditional release phase.

Conditional release lasts a minimum of five years, during which residents are monitored and continue counseling as they live and work in a community, the program summary shows.

Snodgrass’ convictions for rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault relate to an incident on Nov. 1, 1990, in Lawrence. He asked a neighbor’s daughter to come to his mother’s house to help because his mother allegedly had fallen. The neighbor reluctantly entered the house and was raped and sodomized by Snodgrass. Snodgrass had held a knife to her throat before the attack, and after the attack he threatened to kill her family if she told anyone what happened. Police arrested Snodgrass the next morning and found him hiding in a crawl space of his mother’s house, according to a factual summary included in his unsuccessful appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court.

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