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December 30, 2021

Update on Tangipahoa Parish Fugitive Caught in Washington Parish

Washington Parish Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Mike Haley today (December 30, 2021) provided an update on the December 26, 2021 capture of Clarence Gaten, Jr., age 38 and a fugitive from Tangipahoa Parish. Click here for our original story

Chief Haley advises that WPSO deputies went to a residence on Highway 16 in an attempt to locate Gaten who had escaped from the Tangipahoa Parish Jail and was reported to possibly be at the residence of his girlfriend on Highway 16 in Washington Parish. The prisoner’s girlfriend, 40 year-old Kristina Marie Smith, was suspected of picking up the escapee in Amite and driving him to her residence on Highway 16.

After determining the escapee was not in the residence and searching a shed on the property, deputies entered an adjacent wood line and observed a trail leading into the woods. As the deputies walked the trail, they observed a male who appeared to be sleeping on the ground. When the deputies approached, the male ran away through the woods. As one of the deputies was closing in on him, he struck the deputy in the face with a limb before disappearing into the woods.

Other Washington Parish deputies, along with Tangipahoa Parish deputies, arrived and set up a perimeter. The canine team from Rayburn Correctional Center also arrived on scene and began to track the male through the woods. Tracking dogs led officers to the escapee who was quickly taken into custody.

Gaten was booked into the Washington Parish Jail charged with being a fugitive from Tangipahoa Parish, aggravated battery on an officer, resisting an officer with force or violence and resisting an officer by flight on foot. Gaten remains in the Washington Parish Jail to face local charges. Although his bond has been set at $10,000, he is not eligible for release due to a hold placed on him by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Kristina Marie Smith was booked into the Washington Parish Jail on charges of interfering with a law enforcement investigation, being a fugitive from Tangipahoa Parish, and issuing worthless checks. Smith has one previous charge in Washington Parish for possession of illegal drugs in 2009. Her bond was set at $2,250; however, on December 28, 2021, she was transported to the Tangipahoa Parish Jail to face charges there.

“This jailhouse romance didn’t work for either party,” stated Sheriff Randy Seal. “I don’t understand why anyone would become romantically involved with a prisoner, knowing there can be no satisfactory future in such a relationship. In this case, Gaten is facing more charges and Smith is facing new charges both in Washington and Tangipahoa. Our deputies did a great job apprehending Gaten and I am grateful for the assistance of Rayburn Correctional Center officers and canines as well as Tangipahoa Parish deputies.”

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