• WQTC 102.3

Suspect hides in corn maze and sends police on frantic two-hour hunt

A California man nearly outsmarted police by hiding in a corn maze, forcing officers to roam the maze for two hours.

The Press Democrat reports that the Petaluma Police Department was searching for Ryan Kenneth Watt, 29, after fielding a reports that Watt had violated a restraining order by approaching his former girlfriend on Friday.

Officers later located him at a homeless encampment, which was the easy part.  The hard part, however, was catching the slippery criminal, who fled and successfully shook pursuing officers. 

Police returned the following morning and spotted Watt, who then proceeded to run off in another direction -- across a highway and into the local Petaluma corn maze.  The four-acre maze featured 10 foot high corn stalks.

Officers set up a perimeter around the maze and, with the assistance of a California Highway Patrol officer, conducted a systematic search in two 3-person groups. A CHP helicopter was also called in but failed to locate Watt.

After an exhausting two-hour manhunt, an intuitive officer noticed a chicken coop upon exiting the maze and decided to investigate.  He found the suspect hiding inside and took him into custody.

Watt's bond was set at $250,000 and faces several charges -- including resisting arrest, suspicion of violating the restraining order, and attempting to dissuade a victim of a crime.  There was also a warrant out for his arrest for an unrelated prowling case. 





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