Kansas sex offender hid in Utah campsite with fake name, investigators say

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WAYNE COUNTY, Utah — A Utah sheriff and the U.S. Marshals Service are sharing more information about how a sex offender convicted in Topeka evaded authorities, as well as how he was caught.

“Effective law enforcement in the United States today is enhanced by citizens willing to report what they see,” said U.S. Marshal for the District of Kansas Ronald Miller. “That occurred in this case and resulted in a violent predator being recaptured.”

John Freeman Colt, 42, labeled a dangerous sex offender and committed to a Kansas mental hospital, had been on the run for nearly three months after slipping out June 30 and getting ahold of a motorcycle.

When state investigators failed to find him by the two-month mark since his escape, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation said the U.S. Marshals, posting a $10,000 reward for information to find him, took the lead in the search for the runaway sex offender.

Photos released by the U.S. Marshals indicated John Freeman Colt was able to acquire a motorcycle after escaping the hospital, and changed his appearance to throw off people looking for him. (Courtesy Photos/U.S. Marshals Service)

Over in Utah, Wayne County Sheriff Dan Jensen said someone sent his office a tip after seeing John Freeman Colt’s wanted poster on the news. They said a man who looks like Colt made his own campsite in the area and was using a fake name: Jason Holt.

The person who shared the tip also gave the sheriff the location of Colt’s campsite. Detectives, a search and rescue team and an aerial surveillance unit went out to find and arrest Colt. As they got ready in the area to approach his campsite, Jensen said they spotted him driving away on his motorcycle and chased him.

Colt and the pursuing law enforcement agents reached speeds up to 100 miles per hour as they went for a few miles. Eventually, a deputy got in front of Colt, and the U.S. Marshals Service said he decided to give up on his escape attempt. The team chasing Colt took him into custody without issue after he confirmed his true identity.

Court records show a Shawnee County judge convicted him of aggravated sexual battery and aggravated burglary in 2001 against a woman of unspecified age in Topeka. He served five years in a state prison for aggravated sexual battery, attempted rape, aggravated burglary, and four counts of aggravated battery against law enforcement. He was required to register as a sexual offender for the remainder of his life. After finishing his sentence, he was labeled too dangerous to release and committed to the Larned State Hospital.

The Wayne County sheriff said his office is working with the U.S. Marshals now on a failure to register sex offender violation case against Colt. Investigators believe Colt planned his escape several months in advance, shaved his hair and beard and used a fake ID badge and dress clothes to pose as a doctor at the hospital. He convinced a new staff member to lead him out of the hospital and got outside the gates.

Colt is being held in Utah’s Sevier County Jail before he’ll be returned to Kansas, according to the U.S. Marshals.

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