Tammany work-release escapee to appear in Tangipahoa court

Christopher Ricker, whose escape from a Northshore Workforce facility led to St. Tammany Parish Sheriff Jack Strain’s decision to shut down the Covington work-release program, will make his first court appearance Wednesday in 21st Judicial District Court in Amite.

Ricker, 35, is charged in Tangipahoa Parish with aggravated flight from an officer, attempted first-degree murder and simple rape in connection with events surrounding his flight from the work-release program, according to Rachael Domiano Beard, public information officer for the 21st Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

The office did not specify the rape victim. The New Orleans Advocate does not identify victims of sexual assault.

Ricker allegedly left the work-release center at 4 a.m. March 13 and abducted his ex-girlfriend from the convenience store where she was working, forcing her to drive him to Tangipahoa Parish in her Toyota Camry and then putting her out of the vehicle.

The woman said Ricker had earlier sent her a threatening text message and she had alerted the work-release program about it, but no one acted on the information.

Ricker was arrested the following day near Loranger after a homeowner told the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office he had seen the fugitive on his property.

Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards said shortly after the arrest that Ricker would be booked with aggravated flight and attempted murder of a police officer because he used his getaway car to ram a Sheriff’s Office car the day of his escape, before jumping in the river to get away from his pursuers.

Strain closed the work-release program the same day that Ricker escaped, becoming the third inmate to go AWOL from the program in as many weeks.

The decision to shut down the facility followed an investigative series by The New Orleans Advocate and WWL-TV about lax oversight of inmates in the program.