OPELOUSAS — The search efforts for a St. Landry Parish inmate who escaped while still shackled expanded late Monday into Evangeline and Avoyelles parishes after the daylong manhunt for 21-year-old Theobegi Levier produced an array of leads but no results.
This is the second escape by the Eunice man, who had been held at the St. Landry Parish jail since Feb. 25 on counts of attempted first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and a prior simple escape that month.
“He’s considered extremely dangerous. He’s a desperate man, and a desperate man is a dangerous man,” St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Clay Higgins said.
The search expanded from the few blocks around Bloch Street and Railroad Avenue to the entire north end of Opelousas and now into neighboring communities, and those involved in the search have begun looking deep into Levier’s family connections and known acquaintances, Higgins said.
Law enforcement agencies statewide and in Texas also have been instructed to be on the lookout for Levier.
With handcuffed wrists and shackled ankles, Levier knocked a St. Landry Parish deputy to the ground outside of an inmate transport van, which had taken Levier and another inmate to a health unit on Bloch Street about 8 a.m., Higgins said.
Preliminary reports on Monday indicated the deputy was alone in escorting the two inmates. Levier was last seen by the deputy heading toward Railroad Avenue, although tips from the public have since “generated many leads,” Higgins said.
“The shackles are certainly slowing him down, but it’s not stopping him,” Higgins said, adding that inmates become “rather adept at running by sort of skipping with the shackles.”
Meanwhile, an investigation is ongoing inside the jail, Higgins said. Deputies are interviewing anyone with whom Levier may have been in contact, including his cellmate and the inmate who was also in the van when Levier escaped.
“We will not rest until this man is back behind bars,” St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said in a statement.
Levier was arrested Feb. 25 following a three-week manhunt that began on Feb. 8 when he wriggled his handcuffed hands from his back to his front, unlocked a window and escaped from a moving Opelousas deputy marshal’s unit.
He had been taken into custody in an incident the day before, in which he was accused of shooting a man in the neck during a planned armed robbery he disguised to his victim as a drug deal, Eunice Police said at the time.
Levier had been held in the St. Landry Parish jail in lieu of $425,000 bail since his capture.
Follow Lanie Lee Cook on Twitter, @lanieleecook, or contact her by phone at (337) 534-0825.