Citing X-rays conducted before Charles Victor Thompson left their custody, state prison authorities have concluded that the handcuff key Thompson used when he slipped out of the Harris County Jail did not come from death row as Sheriff Tommy Thomas and other county officials claimed.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice launched an investigation after Thomas said publicly that the key was smuggled from death row in Livingston during Thompson's transfer to the local jail to await court hearings. The investigation concluded X-rays would have detected any hidden contraband on Thompson or in his personal property.
"Our investigation did not determine the key came from Polunsky or any another TDCJ unit," said prison system spokeswoman Michelle Lyons. "Thompson has been adamant with prison investigators he obtained the key from Harris County. He said he simply told Harris County he got it from death row to expedite his transfer."
Based on Thompson's statements to them, sheriff's officials maintain that the key was hidden in the inmate's toothpaste tube among the personal items he brought with him from the Polunsky Unit, where Thompson awaits execution for the 1998 slaying of his former girlfriend, Dennise Hayslip, 39, and her new boyfriend, Darren Keith Cain, 30. Thompson had been in Houston for resentencing — a Harris County jury affirmed the death penalty Oct. 28 — and was waiting to be returned to Livingston.
"At this point, the only person who knows for sure is Mr. Thompson," Lyons said. "And he has told us he did not get the key from TDCJ."