UPDATE: VC residents urged to lock doors after convicted sex offender escapes custodyTOWER CITY, N.D. — A convicted sex offender being transferred from Washington state to New Hampshire by a private company has escaped custody west of this eastern North Dakota city.
By: Forum Communications Co. report, The Jamestown Sun
TOWER CITY, N.D. — A convicted sex offender being transferred from Washington state to New Hampshire by a private company has escaped custody west of this eastern North Dakota city.
Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said the suspect has not been found as of yet, but his office as well as Barnes County Sheriff’s Deputies and the State Patrol are helping at the scene.
The suspect, Joseph Megna, ran from a transport van during a stop at a rest area about two miles west of Tower City.
A Code Red alert was sent to residents of Valley City telling them to be on the lookout for Megna and to be sure to lock their doors. Officials said Megna is wearing plain clothes - a red shirt and blue jeans - and they advise drivers not to pick up anyone along the highway.
Megna is a convicted sex offender from Washington state, Laney said.
Officers were focusing their search on a field north of Interstate 94.
A State Patrol airplane is also assisting.
According to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender registry, Megna, 29, is a high-risk sex offender from Pasco, Wash. The Franklin County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office describes Megna as a 5-foot, 6-inch white male, weighing 160 pounds with blonde hair and hazel eyes.
Megna was convicted in April 2009 on two counts of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
In 2009, Washington’s Tri-City Herald newspaper reported Megna admitted to hosting a party and giving alcohol to numerous teens, inappropriately touching three of them and exposing himself outside an apartment.
His escape marks the second time in the past eight days that area authorities have searched a cornfield to apprehend a suspect.
On Sept. 28, Red River Valley SWAT spent 11 hours searching for Dylan Thomas Pederson, 21, in a field near Argusville after he allegedly threatened to kill himself and a woman. He’s been charged with four felonies, accused of fleeing into a cornfield, prompting a long search that involved two helicopters and an airplane.
Longtime residents will recall Kyle Bell’s escape in 1999 from a prison transport bus in New Mexico while he was being taken to Oregon. Bell confessed to Jeanna North’s murder two years after her 1993 murder. He was brought back into custody 88 days later after two appearances on “America’s Most Wanted,” which led to a Dallas apartment manager recognizing him as a tenant.
Bell is now serving his lifetime prison sentence at a high-security federal prison in Arizona as part of a prisoner swap agreement with North Dakota.