MCCLEARY (AP) — Police arrested a man Thursday in connection with an escape from a Monroe prison, saying the 59-year-old drove the getaway car for a fugitive prisoner who remains at large.
The man arrested before dawn in McCleary, a small town near Olympia, was not cooperating with investigators, said Monroe police spokeswoman Debbie Willis.
His name was not released, but authorities describe him as a friend of Brandon J. Musto, who went missing Wednesday night from a minimum-security unit at the Monroe Correctional Complex.
Deputies seized the man’s car, said Grays Harbor County Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate. The prison is about 80 miles from where the man was taken into custody.
Musto, 37, who was held in a minimum security unity, had three months left to serve on his sentence.
Authorities say they discovered he was gone after an evening check-in. Inmates are counted four times a day, so officials think Musto had been missing no more than a few hours when they realized he had fled, said corrections department spokesman Chad Lewis.
Musto apparently went over a fence, although officials are checking video as they investigate, Lewis said. Musto began serving time in September 2011 for a for vehicular assault conviction in Thurston County and was scheduled for release in February 2013.
Lewis said authorities do not know Musto’s motive, but since an escape conviction could lead to several more years in prison, “that might be the first question we ask him.”
“You have a foot out the door, there’s little incentive,” Lewis said.
Monroe police also are wondering what made Musto run. “Perhaps down the road we may know,” said Willis, the department spokeswoman.
There was nothing notable in Musto’s prison record and his behavior had to be good to qualify for minimum security, Lewis said.
Minimum security is one of five units at the prison complex about 25 miles northeast of Seattle.
The unit holds about 460 of the 2,500 offenders housed in the state’s second-largest prison — smaller by a few hundred inmates than the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center near the Tri-Cities.
Authorities have asked that anyone who spots Musto call 911. He’s described as white, 5-foot-8, 180 pounds with brown eyes and dark hair. He has tattoos on his right arm and left wrist.
Neither Lewis nor Monroe could remember an escape from the Monroe prison.
Other problems at the facility, however, have made news recently.
In August, a corrections officer was assaulted in the special offenders unit and had to be treated at a Seattle hospital.
And in January 2011, Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl was strangled in the prison chapel. Inmate Byron Scherf is charged with aggravated murder and is scheduled for trial in March in Everett.