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Authorities capture jail escapee





TREGO CENTER -- The convicted rapist who escaped from the Ness County jail Friday night is back in jail, taken into custody Sunday afternoon without incident.

Benito Cardenas Jr., 37, was arrested without incident at a farmstead approximately 4.5 miles east of Trego Center, situated alongside U.S. Highway 283 in Trego County.

One other person apparently was in the residence at the time but was not injured.

Events leading up to Cardenas' return to jail started at approximately 2:30 p.m. Sunday, according to a statement from Trego County Sheriff Rich Schneider.

That's when the sheriff's office received a call from a resident near Trego Center stating a man had been at her property and wanted her car.

She told the sheriff's office she recognized the man, identifying him by the teardrop tattoo under his eye, something she had seen in a photograph broadcast earlier on television.

Shortly after authorites received the call, the Trego County Sheriff's office requested help from the Kansas Highway Patrol and the Ellis County Sheriff's office.

Ness County Sheriff's officers also responded.

"She said that he wanted her car," the release states. "She resisted, and the subject left her property."

Cardenas apparently continued on east and ultimately was located at a farm approximately 4.5 miles east of Trego Center, which is located nearly 9 miles south of the city of WaKeeney.

Cardenas, the release said, "gave himself up to authorities without incident."

Details concerning his escape remain uncertain, as the Ness County Sheriff's office isn't commenting and hasn't issued any kind of statement.

Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple wasn't in the office this morning, and the dispatcher declined comment.

Although Whipple hasn't been available, he told television reporters Friday night Cardenas broke out of jail at approximately 10:30 p.m. Friday.

"He was spotted in a room in the sheriff's department by an office employee," Whipple told KAKE-TV. "That employee alerted the officers on duty, but by that time he made his way out the back door."

Initially, Whipple said he doubted Cardenas still was in the area, thinking he might have headed to either Dodge City or Colorado where he has connections.

Cardenas was in the Ness County jail following his conviction Aug. 1 on charges of rape and aggravated criminal sodomy, both of them involving a child younger than 14.

Because the charges were filed under provisions of Jessica's Law, they carry a possible sentence of life in prison.

The incidents giving rise to the filing of charges occurred in Ness City in September 2010. Cardenas was living in Dodge City at the time of his arrest in April 2011.