Officials revoked the parole of a convicted killer who admitted visiting Michigan City the day before three inmates he knew escaped from the Indiana State Prison.
The Indiana Parole Board voted 4-1 Thursday to send 44-year-old Paul Komyatti Jr. back to prison after finding that he violated his learner's permit by driving alone to northern Indiana from Indianapolis. His scheduled release date is now December 2023, though the board will review his case again in a year.
Most board members didn't believe Komyatti when he said he caught a ride with another ex-con to Michigan City,
. He was arrested for parole violation after investigators questioned him about the escape.
The Hammond native left the Indiana State Prison three months ago after spending 26 years behind bars for his role in the 1983 decapitation of his father.
Parole Board members tried to avoid linking Komyatti's parole revocation hearing with the ongoing investigation into the July 12 escape of convicted rapist Lance Battreal and convicted murderers Mark Booher and Charles Smith. The three were later recaptured.
"We've handled this as if it (the escape) didn't even happen," board Chairman Gregory Server said.
But officials at the hearing said both Komyatti and the ex-con he claimed to ride with, Steve Ellis of Indianapolis, were questioned by escape investigators. Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison wouldn't say whether the men still were under investigation.
Komyatti, who has a learner's permit but not a driver's license, initially told a U.S. marshal that he drove to northern Indiana alone in a borrowed car, but later changed his story, saying he went with Ellis, who had driven his own car.
"I didn't drive at all that night," he said Thursday.
Komyatti, who appeared by video and frequently consulted an attorney sitting beside him, said he initially lied because he was afraid he would get in trouble for accompanying a convicted felon. Ellis, who backed up Komyatti's account, was released in May after serving more than 20 years for burglary, theft and drug charges.
Server said board members had to choose which story was true, and most chose Komyatti's first story.
Ellis said he had known Komyatti in prison. It wasn't clear whether Ellis also knew the escapees. Authorities have said Komyatti admitted knowing the escapees but denied any contact with them.
Correction officials say Battreal, Booher and Smith made their way through utility tunnels beneath the Civil War-era prison before emerging through a manhole cover onto a nearby street. Three prison guards have been suspended for failing to properly supervise the inmates, and a report on the escape is expected to be issued by the end of August.
Komyatti was 17 when he was sentenced in 1983 to prison for murder and conspiracy in the slaying of his father, a Hammond construction worker. The victim's wife, daughter and son-in-law also were convicted in the crime.
On March 19, 1983, Komyatti held his father down in bed while brother-in-law William Vandiver, who was later executed, stabbed the man more than 30 times with a fish filet knife and severed his head with a hacksaw, records said. The dismembered body turned up in garbage bags along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Parole board members acknowledged that Komyatti had an exemplary record in prison, where he earned three bachelor's degrees from Ball State University. But Komyatti admitted he had had trouble adapting to the outside world since his parole in May.
"I don't know 2009. I know 1983," he said.