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Double Murderer Captured After Escaping From Prison

April 30, 1996 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ After 12 hours on the run, an escaped double murderer gave up without a fight when approached on a city street by a police officer and her German shepherd.

Gene Travis, who killed two women in 1985 and once said ``a human life doesn’t mean too much to me,″ escaped Monday morning from the maximum-security Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston, four miles south of Providence.

On Monday night, a woman on a Providence street flagged down Patrolwoman Nancy Santopadre and said she thought she had seen Travis.

``I didn’t think it was him at first. He didn’t resist at all. I thought, `It can’t be him. This guy’s a murderer,‴ Santopadre said.

Santopadre, with her canine partner, Barr, a 2-year-old German shepherd, in the car, drove up to a man with a yellow coat and hood walking on the sidewalk. She asked him to remove a hat he had pulled over his face, recognized him as Travis and arrested him.

``I told Travis if he ran the dog would bite him,″ Santopadre said.

She said Travis told her that if there had been a fight he would have killed the dog, not her.

The capture of one of the state’s most notorious murderers ended a nervous day for citizens and law enforcement officials.

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.

``I can’t think of anyone who would be more dangerous than Gene Travis,″ state police Capt. Anthony Pesare said.

Travis, 54, escaped once before from a Rhode Island prison while serving a sentence for armed robbery and attempted murder. He was recaptured after 19 days.

A month after being released from prison in 1985, he killed two women on consecutive days, stabbing one 23 times and strangling and dismembering the other.

In a jailhouse interview with WJAR-TV that aired in 1994, Travis offered this explanation for the killings: ``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.″

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

Department of Corrections Director George Vose said Travis may have escaped by stowing away on a garbage truck that was among three vehicles that entered and left the prison.

Police said they believe Travis, who was unarmed, broke into a home in Cranston. It was not immediately clear whether he stole anything.

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.