Two Montana State Prison escapees, including a man accused of plotting to kidnap David Letterman’s son two years ago, were captured on Wednesday in wooded areas in northwestern Montana, authorities said.
Officials said they nabbed Kelly A. Frank, 45, and William Willcutt, 22, hours apart at two separate locations, five days after the men had escaped from the state prison some 175 miles away.
“We’re back in a position where we feel that public safety has been restored,” said State Prison Warden Mike Mahoney.
Frank and Willcutt escaped Friday from a ranch operated by the Montana State Prison near Deer Lodge, about 120 miles south of Swan Lake.
The search for them moved to the Swan Lake area on Tuesday after a vehicle found abandoned in the woods was traced to Anaconda, near Deer Lodge. The owner of the car said his house had been burglarized and three weapons were missing.
Frank was arrested in 2005 on allegations he crafted a plan to kidnap Letterman’s son, now 3½, and the boy’s nanny for a $5 million ransom. A charge of solicitation to kidnap was dropped in return for his guilty pleas to other charges, including felony theft and misdemeanor obstruction.
Frank worked as a painter at Letterman’s ranch and received a 10-year prison sentence for overcharging him. At the time of his arrest, Frank was on supervised release for a 1998 conviction for stalking and intimidating a woman.
The two inmates were working on the prison ranch as part of a rehabilitation program. They were on a crew that moves irrigation pipe. Officials believe they took off Friday afternoon in the ranch’s 1965 pickup truck, recovered within hours.
Willcutt, who had a parole hearing earlier this year, lived in a prison work dormitory. Frank, eligible for parole in three months, lived within the prison.
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