Armed sex offender uses own children as leverage and manages to give cops the slip after dramatic four-hour car chase
The search is on for an armed sex offender who was able to escape on foot as the police in California were closing in on his motorhome on May 2 after an agonizing four-hour chase. 46-year-old Stephen Houk too off on foot after he drove the RV into an almond orchard in Bakersfield. His 3-year-old son and 11-month-old daughter were in the back of the vehicle. Police "hung back for safety" and that is how he was able to get away.
His children were given back to their mother after they were retrieved from inside the RV. It is still not known if Houk's wife will be facing charges for not turning him into the police in Oregon where he is wanted. Houk is wanted by Oregon police although it is still not clear what for. In 2002 he was convicted of sodomizing a child in the state. Houk, his wife, and their two young children have been on the run from law enforcement for the past two years.
Police started looking for the man on May 2 after they got a 911 call saying he had been spotted outside a Starbucks in Santa Clarita threatening his wife. The wife told the police that he had then pointed a gun at her face and then took off with the young children.
The authorities tried to confront him and that's when the wild multi-highway goose chase started with his RV being pursued by the local law enforcement. The two children were in the back the entire time. Several local law enforcement agencies were involved in the chase but they were still not able to stop the vehicle. The authorities said that they did not want to do anything that would make Houk hurt the children.
About a hundred miles from where the chase first started, Houk pulled into the orchard that is north of Bakersfield because his gas tank was almost empty. The officers meanwhile were held up because of the dust clouds that Houk had started with his vehicle.
The authorities cautiously approached the vehicle with their guns drawn but when they opened the door, only the two frightened children were inside. A spokesperson with the California Highway Patrol, Officer Robert Rodriguez, told KGW on May 2: "He got lucky. All the forces came together and temporarily, they were on his side." The police are very keen on finding them and are pretty optimistic that they will.
Captain Darren Harris of the sheriff's department said: "We’ve got to find him. I have no doubt we’ll catch up with him but we just want to do that before anyone else gets hurt."
The law enforcement officers have stuck by their decision to take a slow approach in the chase because the children were still inside the vehicle. The officer told Bakersfield.com on May 2: "We were treating this with kid gloves because we didn’t want to agitate the driver."