Child predator caught after a year on the run, family helped him escape jail on jet skis

Authorities have successfully apprehended Samuel Hartman, a convicted child rapist who had been on the run for a year. Hartman, who was serving a life sentence in Arkansas, escaped in August 2022 while on a work detail. After an extensive search, law enforcement located Hartman and his alleged accomplices at a Quality Inn in Lewisburg, West Virginia. The arrest marks the culmination of a year of dedicated efforts by law enforcement officers, bringing relief to the community.

Samuel Hartman, a 39-year-old inmate at the East Arkansas Regional Unit, managed to escape from a field near the detention facility last year. Accompanied by two family members, who allegedly fired at correctional officers, Hartman successfully evaded capture. The Arkansas Department of Corrections reported that Hartman’s escape was aided by his 39-year-old wife, Misty Hartman, his 61-year-old mother, Linda Annette White, and White’s 52-year-old boyfriend, Rodney Trent. The trio now faces charges for their involvement in harboring a sex offender and assisting the fugitives in evading authorities.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), Misty Hartman and Linda White used a pickup truck and “jet skis” to aid Samuel Hartman’s escape. On August 12, the two women approached the prison work detail in the pickup truck. As Hartman ran inside the vehicle, shots were fired toward correctional officers. The fugitives then fled the scene, with correctional officers giving chase until they reached the Mississippi River. It was there that the suspects allegedly utilized two pre-staged jet skis to make their escape. The abandoned jet skis were later discovered on the Mississippi side of the river.

In March, the USMS Cold and Complex Case Unit collaborated with investigators from the Eastern District of Arkansas to uncover Linda White’s connection to West Virginia through her boyfriend, Rodney Trent. With assistance from the West Virginia State Police, Lewisburg Police Department, and Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement successfully located the four suspects at a Quality Inn in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

During the investigation, court documents revealed a phone call recording between Samuel Hartman and Linda White. In the recording, Hartman can be heard claiming that he touched the minor victim by “accident” and that the act was “innocent.” White advised her son to deny the allegations, stating that children often make false claims. Hartman had a history of disciplinary violations, including possession or manufacturing of contraband items, battery, and sexual activity, between 2017 and 2020.