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Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Friday, August 6, 2004
Author/Byline: Sakari Alighandhi And Tillie Fong, Rocky Mountain News Staff writer Clayton Woullard contributed to this story.
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 5A
A federal prisoner who escaped from a transport van Tuesday was captured in Denver on Thursday after leading police on a high-speed chase through several cities in a stolen truck.

Joseph John Belville commandeered a blue pickup after stabbing a 61-year-old man and pushing him out of the vehicle, police said.

Belville, 33, was being held at a federal detention center in Englewood on Thursday, and was charged with escape.

The stabbing victim, who was not identified, was taken to Denver Health Medical Center with minor injuries.

Belville, who had been held in federal custody on a probation-violation charge, escaped from the van when it slowed on an off-ramp at 20th Street and Interstate 25. The van was taking Belville and two other inmates back to the federal facility in Akron after a court hearing in Denver. Belville was dubbed “the underwear guy” for stripping off his prison clothes during his getaway, leaving him clad in only boxer shorts and orange socks. The socks were later found near the Denver Children’s Museum.

He had managed to elude capture until 9:45 a.m. Thursday, when a U.S. deputy marshal cornered him near a fence behind McCoys Restaurant in the 4700 block of Federal Boulevard, according to Ken Deal, chief deputy U.S. marshal.

But Belville pulled a knife on the marshal, who drew his gun and yelled for the suspect to drop his weapon. Belville lowered the knife to his side and the officer retreated, but Belville then turned and jumped over a fence, Deal said.

Belville later flagged down a blue pickup truck at West 47th Avenue and Federal Boulevard and jumped into the passenger seat.

When Belville entered the truck, the driver put the vehicle into park. Deal said that at that point, Belville apparently panicked, stabbed the man in the leg, pushed the driver from the truck and drove off.

Belville then led police on a 30-minute high-speed chase through Adams County, Wheat Ridge and Commerce City before returning to Denver. At times, speeds reached 95 mph, with officers from different jurisdictions joining in.

During the chase, police tried different maneuvers to slow or stop Belville. Officers also tried an unsuccessful “pit maneuver” on the truck, in which a police car rams the suspect’s vehicle, causing it to spin and come to a stop, said Denver Police Detective Virginia Lopez.

But it was spikes placed on the road that slowed Belville down to 30 mph in a residential neighborhood in west Denver, Deal said.

The pursuit ended at 10:20 a.m. near West 24th Avenue and Lowell Boulevard, when an unmarked U.S. Marshals Service sport utility vehicle traveling north on Lowell Boulevard intentionally slammed head-on into the suspect’s southbound truck.

“The sirens woke me up,” said Andrew Priest, a resident who was jostled out of bed by the noise.

“I heard them go by once, then they came around again, and just as the sirens reached her, I heard this big ‘Thud!’ and then it sounded like every siren around was right in my front yard.”

Another neighbor, Mary Baruch, watched all the action in the neighborhood from her front yard, where she was consulting with Cathy Quinn, a practitioner of feng shui, on which plants and colors to use for her home to add peace and balance to the area.

“I heard sirens,” Baruch said. “They were loud, then soft, then loud, then soft.”

When Baruch’s dog started to tremble from the noise, Quinn turned to Baruch and said, “I wonder if they are chasing the underwear guy.”

The two women soon got their answer, as they witnessed the collision that ended the pursuit.

” ‘Boom!’ and smoke came out of the front of the car,” Baruch said.

Virginia Fresquez, 56, was home alone when she heard the sirens in her neighborhood. “I was scared,” she said. “I had my back door opened. I closed and locked it.”

When she went to the front window to see what was going on, she saw the two vehicles collide in front of her home. About 40 police cars immediately converged on the scene.

Fresquez said Belville was wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans when officers pulled him from the truck and placed him in a police car.

“It was really fast,” she said of the arrest. “There wasn’t a struggle.”


On the run

Two other prisoners who escaped this week are still being sought. They are:

* FLOYD STOLIN JR., 31, a Brighton burglary suspect, escaped Wednesday by jumping from a transport van that had stopped on the off-ramp from Interstate 76 to Bromley Lane. Description: White male, 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, red hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a gray shirt, blue shorts, white socks and tennis shoes. * ROBERT DANA, 38, a convicted sex offender, escaped Sunday from the Arrowhead Correctional Center, a minimum-security state prison in Canon City. On Thursday, Dana was spotted twice in the Fountain area, where more than 40 officers searched for him without success.

Description: White male, 5-foot-8, 158 pounds with brown eyes and brown hair. Last seen wearing gray sweat pants and a red shirt. However, both items were recovered during the search in Fountain on Thursday.

A $2,500 reward is being offered.


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