Inmate 'walks away' from ISP

Travis Hornett

MICHIGAN CITY – An inmate escaped from the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City late Wednesday morning, and police are warning people that he should be "considered dangerous."

Travis Hornett, 39, escaped from ISP about 11:10 a.m. Wednesday, according to Michigan City Police Department Chief of Services Royce Williams.

He "fled from a work detail on prison grounds and is believed to still be in the area," Williams said.

"I can confirm that we had an offender walk away from the low-level facility located outside the wall of the Indiana State Prison," IDOC spokeswoman Margaux Auxier, who classified the incident as a walk away and not an escape.

"At approximately 11 a.m., the Indiana State Prison discovered Offender Travis Hornett missing from his outside work detail at the facility’s low-security housing unit," Auxier said.

"Hornett, a minimum security offender, was part of an outside maintenance work crew."

Hornett is described as a white Hispanic male, about 5-foot-5 and 160 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, according to the IDOC. He was wearing khaki clothes, but it was unknown if he was wearing the same clothes now, Williams said about 12:30 p.m.

ISP personnel, along with the Department of Correction’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit, is working with Indiana State Police, the U.S. Marshals Service and local law enforcement "to ensure his capture and return to custody," Auxier said. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Anyone who sees Hornett should "consider him dangerous" and "not approach him," authorities said. Call 911 immediately with information on his whereabouts.

Word of the escape led to a lockdown at Knapp Elementary School, where students were attending the Safe Harbor program, according to Michigan City Area Schools spokeswoman Betsy Kohn. Also locked down was the Boys and Girls Club at the former Elston building.

Hornett – a resident of Waterloo, about 10 miles north of Fort Wayne – was serving a five-year prison term after being convicted of Level 5 felony burglary in Dekalb County in September 2018. His projected release date was May 2021, according to IDOC.

He previously served a 10-year sentence for a 2006 burglary conviction in Dekalb County; and a four-year sentence for a 2002 conviction for burglary, theft and conversion in Dekalb County, according to IDOC.

The last escape from ISP occurred on July 12, 2009, when Mark Booher and Charles Smith, both convicted murderers; and Lance Battreal, a convicted rapist, got out through a maintenance tunnel.

Smith was captured the next day in Southwest Michigan. Battreal was captured July 21 at his parents' home in Rockport, Indiana; and Booher was captured July 23 at a hotel in Indianapolis.

They escaped through underground tunnels, which carry pipe chases and sewer lines beneath the facility. IDOC officials said at the time that two of the escapees had worked in the tunnels.

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