TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirms they believe convicted murderer Gonzalo Lopez, 46, has killed five more people, three of which are children since escaping from custody May 12.
The slain family was from Houston and were visiting their weekend home, according to law enforcement. They were seen alive, earlier in the day on June 2. The home where they were killed was cleared multiple times, as it's within the primary search perimeter, according to law enforcement. But officials said they believe Lopez broke into the home at some point after hiding in the woods.
"He broke into the residence and committed these murders," an official said.
They also said it's possible Lopez stole clothes and potentially firearms.
"While investigating leads inside the search perimeter, law enforcement agencies received a call from an individual who had become concerned after not hearing from an elderly relative," TDCJ said.
The bodies were discovered not far from where Lopez allegedly stabbedbefore fleeing after it crashed. Lopez was being transported from a lockup in Gatesville, more than 100 miles west of the area where he escaped, to one in Huntsville, about 50 miles south of that area.
"A 1999 Chevrolet Silverado, license plate DPV4520, was missing from the residence. It is believed that escaped inmate, Gonzalo Lopez, may be driving the vehicle and may be armed," said TDCJ.
Authorities said they believe the missing truck is a farm truck, that's likely not registered in the names of the victims.
Authorities previously released photos of Lopez that were taken by surveillance cameras shortly before he boarded the bus three weeks ago. Last week, the U.S. Marshals Service released photos showing Lopez's tattoos and announced that a combined reward of up to $50,000 is being offered for information leading to his capture.
"He's crafty," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Robert Hurst said. "He's done this before down in South Texas in Webb County, he hid out for almost nine days.
Lopez, who was serving a life sentence, was being transported to a medical appointment on May 12 in a caged area of the bus designated for high-risk inmates, the department said in a statement last week that offered new details on the escape. The agency also released new surveillance images of Lopez taken on the morning of the escape.
As Lopez was being transported, he somehow freed himself from his hand and leg restraints, cut through the expanded metal of the cage and crawled out the bottom, the department said. He then attacked the driver, who stopped the bus and got into an altercation with Lopez, the department said. They both eventually got off the bus.
At some point the driver was stabbed and wounded in the hand and chest, said Jason Clark, the department's chief of staff. He said the driver's wounds weren't life-threatening.
A second officer at the rear of the bus then exited and approached Lopez, who got back on the bus and started driving down the road, the department said.
The officers fired at Lopez and disabled the bus by shooting a rear tire, the department said. The bus then traveled a short distance before leaving the roadway, where Lopez got out and ran into the woods, according to the department.
Melanie Tieperman was with her son when they came upon the bus crash and saw Lopez escaping, KHOU-TV reported. A video given to KAGS-TV by Tieperman appears to show Lopez running into the woods.
Sixteen prisoners were aboard the bus, but no one else escaped, the department said.
Lopez, who was convicted in 2006 of killing a man along the Texas-Mexico border, escaped in Leon County, a rural area between Dallas and Houston, authorities said. Several law enforcement agencies are involved in the search, which has included aircraft and horseback and canine teams.
Leon County has roughly 16,000 residents and is about 50 miles north of the state's prison headquarters in Huntsville.
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