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Double Murderer Escapes From State Prison, Captured in Providence

April 30, 1996 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A man who killed two women on successive days and once said ``a human life doesn’t mean too much to me″ escaped briefly from prison Monday and was captured 12 hours later in a massive manhunt.

Gene Travis, 54, was picked up by police in Providence at about 9:30 p.m., officials said. He had been spotted driving a car with a woman in the passenger seat.

``I can’t think of anyone who would be more dangerous than Gene Travis,″ said state police Capt. Anthony Pesare, after Travis was reported missing from Rhode Island’s maximum-security Adult Correctional Institutions.

Every police department in Rhode Island, as well as all uniformed police officers, were placed on alert, and scores of police searched for Travis in and around the prison.

Travis was seen at about 1 p.m. driving a gray Saab on Route 2 less than a mile from the state prison, state police Lt. James Mullen said. A gray-haired woman who appeared to be in her 60s was in the passenger’s seat, he said.

There was no immediate word on what happened to the woman or car.

Corrections Department spokesman A.T. Wall said Travis was last seen in the prison yard at 9:15 a.m. and was reported missing at 11:30 a.m.

Department of Corrections Director George Vose said they believe Travis escaped by stowing away on a garbage truck that was among three vehicles that entered and left the prison during the time Travis disappeared. They believe he acted alone.

Travis, 54, escaped once before from a Massachusetts prison while serving a sentence for armed robbery and attempted murder. He was recaptured after 19 days. A month after his 1985 release, he killed two women on consecutive days, stabbing one 23 times and strangling and dismembering the other.

In a 1994 jailhouse interview with WJAR-TV of Providence, Travis offered this explanation for the 1985 slayings: ``I was broke and I just had to go out and do what I do best. A human life doesn’t mean too much to me.″

Wall said Travis reported to his job picking up trash on prison grounds at about 8:30 a.m. and was reported missing three hours later when a guard said he had not returned to his cell.

Travis was serving a life sentence without parole for one of the 1985 murders. He was convicted of the other murder in Massachusetts and sentenced to two consecutive life terms.