The phone call Texas State Sen. John Whitmire received two weeks ago was far from ordinary, with clanging steel doors and hollering. The caller wanted to prove that he was on Texas’ death row, says the Austin American-Statesman. Calling from what is supposed to be the most secure part of Texas’ prison system, the caller told Whitmire, chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, that he knew that Whitmire had two daughters. The caller also knew their ages and where they lived in Houston, among other personal details the convict said he had gleaned from the Internet. “Frankly, that scared the hell out of me,” said Whitmire, who quickly notified authorities.
Yesterday, authorities busted Richard Lee Tabler in his death row cell and charged him with possession of the phone. Investigators said more than 2,800 calls were made on the phone during the past month alone. Authorities suspect that at least nine other inmates on death row may have used the phone to make calls – more than 300 by one convict alone. Gov. Rick Perry ordered the entire prison system to be be locked down and that all inmates, staff, and visitors be searched for contraband. Authorities jailed Tabler’s mother after she arrived from her home in Georgia. She faces a criminal charge after authorities said she helped get the phone to her son.