NewsCovering Kern County


Convicted sex offended Stephen Houk spent the night in Bakersfield

Authorities think he might have stayed at shelter
Posted at 4:05 PM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 20:22:15-04

A convicted sex offender who fled police in Kern County might have spent the night in Bakersfield and is facing multiple charges.

46-year-old Stephen Houk lead multiple law enforcement agencies on a wild police chase in his RV, which started in Los Angeles and ended in Kern County when he disappeared from police.

Friday law enforcement released new details about the investigation that lead to Houk's arrest in Barstow, California.

In a press conference Friday morning, LA County Sheriff's officials said they captured Houk Thursday in an empty rail car in Barstow. And Houk admitted he was in Bakersfield while authorities were looking for him in the orchard near Shafter. 

Officials said, after allegedly fleeing police for three and a half hours through Los Angeles and Bakersfield, Houk eventually came to a stop in Kern County when he ran out of gas in his RV.

LA County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Captain, Eddie Hernandez, said, "He exited through the driver side of the motor home concealed away from the pursuing officers he hid under the foliage of the orchard."

Authorities said Houk told them from there he ran for three hours, avoiding the highway until night fall, when he presumed the manhunt had ended. That's when he stopped in Bakersfield.

"He found some shelter at the library," said Capt. Eddie Hernandez.

Although officials wouldn't say which library he went to, employees at the Beale Library in the center of Downtown Bakersfield said, many homeless people sleep outside where there is no surveillance cameras. But officials did say, the library was near a local shelter where Houk later freshened up. 

"He shaved his beard, he got some rest, he found a nearby homeless shelter where he got some food," said Capt. Eddie Hernandez.

23ABC began digging deeper into his Bakersfield trail. We found out how Houk may have passed through a local shelter without being recognized.

Capt. Eddie Hernandez said, "They'll check in at our information booth right up front they have to give a name."

The Mission keeps a log of all the people who come in and out of the shelter daily. Visitors don't have to show any form of identification to get a meal, shower, or clothing. But if they are looking to stay overnight The Mission conducts an intake process, that involves a criminal background check. If someone is wanted by police, The Mission turns them over to authorities, no questions asked.

But Houk managed to stay under the radar avoiding any red flags in Bakersfield before making his next move that led to his final capture.

Capt. Eddie Hernandez said, "Jumped in the train and was headed towards Arizona at least that's what he believed, when it stopped in Barstow."

With the help of Kern County Sheriff's Office and other leads, LA County Sheriff deputies were able to stop all freight trains going in or out of Bakersfield. And they were able to find Houk in an empty rail car in Barstow and arrest him.

KCSO officials said they're still looking for Houk's handgun. And Houk is behind bars tonight at the LASD Lancaster Jail facing 14 felony charges including kidnapping, assualt with a deadly weapon, criminal threats, and domestic violence. His bail is also set at one million dollars, and as of Friday afternoon is awaiting a court date.