Fugitives arrested trying to cross border

By Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis Published: February 28, 2002
Fugitives Brenda Andrew and James Pavatt were caught Thursday by the simplest of things - an Oklahoma license tag - as they crossed back into the United States from Mexico.

U.S. customs agents arrested the murder suspects without in cident at 11:55 a.m. Thursday after they drove up to the busy border crossing at Hidalgo, Texas, 10 miles south of McAl len. Both immediately asked for their lawyers.

Customs agents found Brenda Andrew's two children - Tric ity, 11, and Parker, 7 - with an uncle in a separate vehicle. The FBI described the children as upset but safe.

They were taken into protec tive custody by the FBI. They were reunited about 9:30 p.m. Thursday with their paternal grandparents, E.R. and Lou An drew of Enid, said Ruben Garza, a U.S. Customs supervisor in Hi dalgo.

The fugitives are accused of murdering Rob Andrew on Nov. 20 when he came to his home in northwest Oklahoma City to pick up his children for Thanks giving. He was shot to death.

Rob and Brenda Andrew were divorcing.

Brenda Andrew, 38, and Pa vatt, 48, an Oklahoma City in surance salesman, had gone to Mexico with the children before they were charged, crossing the border at Laredo, Texas, on Nov. 26. Pavatt and the children got tourist visas in Mexico that day.

They were caught because Oklahoma City FBI agent Kurt Stoner had asked customs agents to watch for a license plate on a red 1992 Chevy Be retta driven by Pavatt.

Customs agents spotted that tag Thursday as the fugitives waited in line to cross the bor der at the Hidalgo Bridge.

"We put a lot of traps in place in hopes that, maybe, at some point they make a mistake. And, today, they made a mis take, and we were fortunate enough to catch them," FBI spokesman Gary Johnson said at a news conference in Okla homa City.

"In any type of fugitive inves tigation, a lot of it's luck, and a lot of it's skill and hard work."

The FBI said the two used their real names when confronted by customs agents. Pavatt admitted the FBI wanted to question him. The two were described as calm and wearing casual clothes.

An attorney for Brenda Andrew sug gested she was returning to surrender but prosecutors, police and the FBI questioned that claim.

"We felt like they would probably be run ning out of money," Johnson said. "So, they're either going to give up, get a job - which would be very difficult to do because they are south of the border - or seek help. We felt like at this point, since there had been no spottings and sightings, that they probably were seeking some help."

The FBI and customs officials said the two children were in a 2000 white van driven by James Bowlin, the brother-in-law of Brenda Andrew. He also was stopped try ing to cross into the United States.

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