Stalking Suspect Leads Police Into Corn Maze
A man suspected of stalking a woman and breaking the conditions of his restraining order was arrested in Petaluma, California - but not before he took them on a wild goose chase in a corn maze.
Ryan Kenneth Watt, 29, is accused of violating a restraining order, having repeatedly stalked his former girlfriend online, in person and using a GPS tracker planted on her car, according to ABC.
Petaluma Police had been alerted that Watt had violated his restraining order against his ex, who told officers he had been sending her texts and calling her, asking her to drop the charges.
Cops tried to arrest Watt at a homeless camp on Saturday 28 September, but they said he fled - running across a highway and into the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch Amazing Corn Maze, which is one of the largest corn mazes in Northern California.
Lt. Ed Crosby of the Petaluma Police Department told The Press Democrat: "He runs from our officers across the freeway. How he didn't get hit, I don't know."
With the help of the California Highway Patrol - including a helicopter - police then set up a perimeter around the maze and sent two three-person groups into the maze for a systematic search.
Crosby said officers were beginning to lose faith, as the helicopter above started to run low on fuel.
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"We had searched the corn maze itself pretty thoroughly and hadn't found him," Crosby said.
"At some point, you have to call it."
However, as a police officer was leaving the maze, they spotted a chicken coop around 20ft from the maze. Kicking down the door, they looked inside and found their suspect.
Speaking to The Mercury News, Crosby explained: "We worked our way methodically through it. We covered the whole maze. We couldn't find him. The aircraft didn't see any movement.
"We were getting ready to close it down. Then one of our guys noticed the chicken coop."
He added: "We think he hunkered down in the maze and then ran out into the coop."
Watt was arrested and booked into the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of violating the restraining order, attempting to dissuade a victim of a crime, resisting arrest and for a warrant in an unrelated September prowling case, Crosby said.
He also added that a judge approved a bail enhancement that set bail at $250,000.
Featured Image Credit: Petaluma Pumpkin Patch And Amazing Corn Maze