Updated September 29, 2022 - 8:01 pm
At least one shuttle bus company employee is expected to receive a $30,000 reward for alerting law enforcement about an escaped murderer attempting to flee the country, Nevada U.S. Marshal Gary Schofield said Thursday.
Schofield, along with Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Spencer Evans, FBI special agent in charge of the Las Vegas Field Office, shared remarks Thursday on the capture of escaped inmate Porfirio Duarte-Herrera.
Duarte-Herrera, 42, was arrested at a bus station along North Eastern Avenue near Searles Avenue around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, wearing new clothes and holding a brand-new backpack, Schofield said. Duarte-Herrera had purchased a ticket to Tijuana.
Duarte-Herrera told officers who arrested him that the escape was his idea and the backpack was full of clothes. Authorities did not divulge where he got the money or merchandise.
Duarte-Herrera, who was on the lam for days after escaping from the Southern Desert Correctional Center in Indian Springs, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2007 Luxor parking lot bombing that killed 27-year-old Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio, a casino hot dog stand worker.
Schofield thanked media for publishing the escaped prisoner’s photo and information, which alerted the bus employee. Duarte-Herrera was unaccounted for as of Friday evening, but the Nevada Department of Corrections did not alert the public to the escape until Tuesday morning.
“The key to this is the media,” Schofield said. “If it wasn’t for media pushing information out, the observant employee at the bus depot wouldn’t have known to call this guy out.”
Later Thursday, Schofield said it still has to be officially confirmed that the shuttle bus workers provided the tip that led to the arrest, but that it appears they did provide the crucial information.
Schofield, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and the Federal Bureau of Investigations was not alerted to the escaped inmate until Tuesday, the agencies confirmed Thursday.
Metro’s major violators and narcotics Capt. Branden Clarkson found footage of the fugitive being dropped off at East Bonanza Road and North Nellis Boulevard Monday around 7 p.m., so detectives put up flyers at all public transportation depots in the valley. The bus employee recognized the man from the flyer and called the police.
Video showed Duarte-Herrera walked down East Owens Avenue to the bus stop Wednesday, but it was unclear how long he had been in the Las Vegas area, Schofield said.
Lombardo said he invited the Nevada Department of Corrections to the press conference Thursday but no officials appeared.
“The policies and procedures and all the failures that occurred on Friday and up until Tuesday need to be addressed,” he said.
Duarte Herrera’s friend, Omar Rueda-Denvers, was also convicted in 2010 of murder in the bombing, which targeted Rueda-Denvers’ ex-girlfriend, who was not hurt in the blast, and her lover Antonio.
In 2019, a federal judge granted Rueda-Denvers a new trial, ruling that he was unable to cross-examine his co-defendant, whose incriminating statements to police were presented to the jury.
Rueda-Denvers faced a retrial in 2021 and was convicted of murder, attempted murder, possession of an explosive or incendiary device and transportation or receipt of explosives.
In a statement to the Review-Journal, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak encouraged the Nevada Department of Corrections to conduct a thorough investigation into the escape.
“Failure to follow protocol or procedures cannot be tolerated where public safety is at stake,” a spokesman for the Governor wrote in the statement. “Beyond this incident, addressing larger scale deficiencies in staffing remains a priority to the Governor. Correctional institutions across the country are facing staffing shortages and NDOC is looking at innovative ways to increase recruitment at all facilities within this state.”
Schofield gave credit to the bus station employee who informed authorities of Duarte-Herrera’s location.
“When you really boil this down,” he said, “an observant employee saw a media story and said, ‘Hey wait a minute, that’s the guy.’”