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Texas fugitive nabbed after 20 years in Atmore


An Escambia County deputy’s diligence led to the arrest of one of the state of Texas’s most wanted fugitives, a man who had been living in hiding in Atmore for the past two decades.

Chief Deputy Mike Lambert reported Wednesday that the actions of Deputy Dereck Lowry, who was given two different names by a speeding suspect, led to the discovery that the motorist with whom he was talking was actually 60-year-old Ricky Lee Waters, who provided an address on Rockaway Creek Road.

The investigation initiated by Lowry ultimately determined that Waters, who has lived in Atmore since 1997, is considered one of the Lone Star State’s 10 most wanted criminals. He has been sought for more than a decade after he violated his parole by leaving the Houston area without notifying authorities.

According to an article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle’s website in 2004, the fugitive served less than 10 years of a 20-year sentence he received in 1979 after a conviction for aggravated assault, aggravated rape and attempted murder.

While in the early stages of parole from those crimes, Waters had a knife in his possession when he was arrested for his involvement in a bar fight in Pasadena, Tex. He was handed a 10-year sentence for that crime and was released on parole after having served about half that sentence.

Lambert said the Texas bad guy’s freedom came to an end due to a misdemeanor traffic violation.

The deputy was on patrol in the Short Street area of Atmore when he spotted a red and white Ford F150 that matched a vehicle driven by a man who was the subject of several warrants. The county lawman reportedly followed the pickup onto Jack Springs Road, where the driver “exceeded the posted speed limit,” prompting the officer to turn on his blue lights and initiate a traffic stop.

The driver twice gave the deputy a false name, and twice the deputy ran those names through crime information computers and came back with proof that the pickup driver was not the person he claimed to be. He was then arrested for giving false information to a law enforcement officer and taken to the county jail.

The criminal runaway’s day got even worse when a search of his personal property revealed a bag of a crystalline substance that tested positive for methamphetamine. He was then charged with possession of a controlled substance.

Waters was scheduled to go before a judge Wednesday afternoon for a bond hearing on the Escambia County charges. Lambert said Waters would have to make bond here before he could be extradited to Texas.

For more details on the case, read next week’s Atmore News.