It took California police two hours before they could arrest a man suspected of stalking his ex-girlfriend after he went to hide inside a corn maze. The suspect was identified as 29-year-old Ryan Kenneth Watt, who allegedly violated a restraining order that barred him from speaking to his former girlfriend.
According to the Press Democrat, a local newspaper in Sonoma County, the girlfriend informed officers that Watt was texting and calling her to ask that she drop the charges against him.
Police went out to look for him the following day at local homeless encampments, eventually finding Watt at one in north Petaluma. He managed to run away from the officers, who were not able to catch him.
The authorities went back on Saturday and found Watt at about 8:55 in the morning. The alleged stalker ran and fled across Highway 101 and into the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch corn maze, said Lt. Ed Crosby of the Petaluma Police Department.
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A perimeter was set around the maze and with the help of a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer, two groups conducted a systematic search of the maze. A CHP also responded to the scene to help in the search, but Crosby said they were still unable to find Watt.
The officer added that a helicopter brought in to help was nearly out of fuel by 11 a.m. and along with it was the loss of hope in their search.
"We had searched the corn maze itself pretty thoroughly and hadn’t found him," Crosby told the Press Democrat. "At some point, you have to call it."
As the officers were leaving the maze, one of them noticed a chicken coop and decided to investigate. It turned out Watt was hiding inside.
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Watt was promptly arrested and sent to the Sonoma County Jail on suspicion of violating a restraining order. Other charges included attempting to dissuade a crime victim, resisting arrest, and another one for an unrelated prowling case in September.
Crosby said a judge approved a bail enhancement that set it at $250,000. He added the police department also asked for enhancement to protect Watt's former girlfriend.