WAYNE COUNTY, Utah (KSNT) – A Utah sheriff and the U.S. Marshals Service are sharing more information Monday 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, aged 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.
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 near the town of Torrey, 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.
Investigators believe Colt planned his escape from the hospital several months in advance. On the day he ran away, he shaved his hair and beard and then 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.
Jensen said his office is working with the U.S. Marshals now on a failure to register sex offender violation case against Colt. Authorities booked him into Utah’s Sevier County Jail. He’ll be returned to Kansas next, according to the U.S. Marshals.