Monroe escapee caught near North Bend Nov. 11

November 12, 2012

By Contributed

By Katherine Long

Seattle Times staff reporter

The man was cold, wet and scratched up when he stopped a fellow hiker on a trail around Rattlesnake Ridge the afternoon of Nov. 11 and asked to borrow his cellphone to call his mom.

To the hiker who owned the cellphone, something about the encounter didn’t seem quite right.

He came home and started doing some research online, and came to believe he’d spoken to Brandon J. Musto, an escapee from Monroe Correctional Complex who had been on the lam since Wednesday.

On Sunday night, acting on the hiker’s tip, a King County sheriff’s K-9 unit and SWAT team tracked Musto down in the woods and caught him, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindi West.

Musto at first tried to run from the SWAT team, then tried to hide. He was caught by Avo, a German shepherd on the K-9 squad, West said.

West said Musto had left a telltale clue on the hiker’s cellphone — his mother’s phone number. Officers quickly verified the number, then headed to the woods to find him.

Sunday’s lead was the second time the Sheriff’s Office had gotten a tip about Musto being in the North Bend woods. On Saturday, several other hikers also thought they encountered him on the trail, West said.

Musto, 37, had three months left to serve on a conviction for vehicular assault. He started serving time at the Monroe prison in September 2011. Prison officials think he probably escaped by climbing over a fence.

West said officers were planning to take him to a hospital to make sure he was OK, then take him to the King County Jail or back to the Monroe prison.

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