A Wisconsin county jail inmate who escaped from a work detail last week turned up in Riverside last Thursday, Riverside police say, and may still be in the area.
Steven M. Sampson, 46, was charged on Jan. 30 with escaping from authorities in Green Lake County, Wis. According to Green Lake Sheriff Chief Deputy Mark Putzke, Sampson failed to return to the county jail after spending the day at his work-release job for the Green Lake County Highway Department. Putzke said that Sampson had been assigned to the work detail, which involved general labor, “for quite a while.”
Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel indicated that Sampson may have walked away from authorities after he had some type of verbal altercation with a county employee.
Police said Sampson left behind his bright green safety vest and a community service jacket before stealing a 2000 Pontiac Grand Prix belonging to a highway department employee. Weitzel said police recovered the car’s license plates, leading them to believe Sampson stole other plates and put them on the vehicle before heading south toward Chicago.
Riverside police weren’t notified of the escape until the morning of Feb. 2 and didn’t receive a copy of the warrant issued by Green Lake County until a day after that, Weitzel said. Riverside police sent out an email alert about the escape Sunday night.
Police say that Sampson turned up in Riverside on Feb. 2, the day they first learned of his escape. Sampson has family members who live in Riverside, and officers attempted to contact them after being notified.
However, it wasn’t until early Sunday morning that police were able to talk with any of Sampson’s relatives in Riverside. At that time, police say a relative told them that Sampson called on Feb. 2 and said he was coming by to pick up some clothing. He reportedly showed up at the house on Feb. 2 between 4:45 and 5 p.m., according to the police report. He was reportedly wearing a gray sweatshirt and khaki pants.
Sampson reportedly told his relative that he had been released from jail after serving his sentence. He reportedly gathered some belongings and left the relative’s home shortly after arriving. The family member reportedly told the officer that Sampson mentioned visiting a friend in Minnesota.
However, Weitzel said police believe Sampson may still be in the area. A former girlfriend of Sampson’s reportedly lives in Berwyn.
Riverside police arrested Sampson in July 2011 after Sampson reportedly stole his girlfriend’s cellphone and became physically violent with her to prevent her from calling police.
After Sampson’s arrest, Weitzel said, police learned he was wanted on a warrant by Green Lake County related to a 2007 stalking case. In a plea deal in 2008, Sampson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of attempted stalking and was sentenced to two years – one year in prison followed by one year of extended supervision, which were suspended. He was placed on three years’ probation and ordered to undergo a drug abuse assessment and domestic abuse counseling.
Anyone with information regarding Sampson’s whereabouts is asked to call Riverside police at 708-447-2127 or the Green Lake Sheriff’s Office at 920-294-4000.