Ground Search Called Off for Escaped Inmate

By Beacon Staff

BUTTE — Montana State Prison officials have ended their ground search for a convicted sex offender who escaped Monday morning.

Warden Leroy Kirkegard says crews had been searching through thick brush near the prison for signs of 42-year-old Dean Randolph Jess. That portion of the search ended Tuesday.

The vehicle Jess used to escape was found Monday at 11:30 a.m. about 1.5 miles south of the prison property.

Prison staffers are investigating Jess’s recent activities and have searched his cell, but Kirkegard says they’ve found no clues about where he might go.

Jess was working for motor vehicle maintenance on a service call at about 11 a.m. Monday when he escaped, spokeswoman Linda Moodry said. Prison officials said in a statement Tuesday he disappeared in a rugged area covered by trees and brush.

The highway patrol and the Department of Homeland Security are also searching the area by air.

Jess, who is 42, is described as white, 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds. He has green eyes and a shaved head.

Jess was sentenced to 55 years in prison for a 2004 Park County offense. County Attorney Brett Linneweber told The Montana Standard that Jess had an earlier rape conviction in Washington state.

Jess was not a problem inmate and had worked for the prison’s motor vehicle maintenance since 2006, prison officials said. An investigation into his recent activity at the prison is being conducted.

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