Fugitive who vanished from courthouse back in custody
LAFAYETTE — The felon from Youngsville who vanished last month from the Lafayette Parish Courthouse, then posted a video on YouTube trying to minimize his role in a fatal drunken-driving crash, was caught Tuesday, more than 1,300 miles away in Philadelphia, authorities said.
Wade Lohse, 43, was captured around 12:30 p.m., said Capt. Kip Judice, spokesman with the Lafayette Sheriff’s Office. He said Lohse remains in Philadelphia awaiting a court appearance for extradition to Louisiana.
“May justice be served,” said Cindy Barras, whose daughter, Cacie Barras McGrew, was killed when her car was rammed on the Youngsville Highway in June by a Jeep Cherokee driven by Lohse.
Police said after the crash that Lohse had been alcohol-impaired.
“May my daughter’s soul rest in peace,” an emotional Barras said Tuesday after learning of Lohse’s capture.
Judice said he didn’t yet know the particulars of how Lohse was caught.
Lohse disappeared from the Lafayette Parish Courthouse on March 25 as he awaited trial on an illegal weapons possession charge. Lohse, 43, also faced charges in Lafayette Parish of burglary and vehicular homicide in the McGrew case.
Lohse’s attorney, Thomas Alonzo, and prosecutors were trying to negotiate a plea bargain on all three charges when Lohse, who was free on bond at the time, told his attorney he had to return to his parked vehicle outside to put coins in the meter.
Lohse never returned, and became the most wanted man in Lafayette Parish.
On Friday, police in Salem, Va., notified the U.S. Marshals Office and Lafayette sheriff’s detectives about a Mazda 6 stolen from Lafayette that Lohse may have abandoned there, and a Jeep Cherokee that Lohse might have stolen from Salem. Salem is a town on Interstate 81, less than 400 miles from Philadelphia.
At some point during his escape, Lohse released a long video on YouTube claiming the Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office was trying to railroad him into prison for life for the three felonies for which his attorney was negotiating a plea bargain on March 25.
Lohse in the video also claims he was not drunk when he crashed into McGrew on last summer, and minimized his role.
Lohse’s appearance on YouTube angered McGrew’s mother.
Barras said Tuesday she was relieved to hear Lohse was in custody and hopes he “never sees the light of day again.”
Barras added, “Oh God, I cried and cried, a happy cry. It doesn’t bring (Cacie) back, but he’s off the streets. Now he can pay for his wrongdoing.”
Lohse’s criminal record includes serving nine years in federal prison on an illegal weapons conviction.
J.M. Prather, a Lafayette Parish assistant district attorney who is prosecuting Lohse, said the 43-year-old former fugitive now faces another felony charge, out of state bail jumping, which could add more years to a prison sentence.
“We are very happy to allow him his day in court, as he sought,” Prather said. “Law enforcement really did a good job on this case.”
Prather said the process now will include a court appearance for Lohse in Philadelphia, where he could waive extradition and allow Lafayette authorities to immediately arrange transport back to Acadiana.
If he does not waive extradition, Prather said, it’ll take a few more days before Lohse is returned to Lafayette.