A suspected burglar tussled with an armed homeowner, then slipped out of police handcuffs Wednesday night and spent about three hours on the lam before finally landing in jail.
Nathan Charles Wallace, 22, no address given, remained lodged in the Jackson County Jail on Thursday on multiple charges, including first-degree burglary, third-degree robbery, second- and third-degree theft, unlawful entry into a vehicle, resisting arrest, third-degree escape, criminal mischief and possession of heroin and methamphetamine. Bail is set at $177,000.
Cody and Emily Fuhrman, who live in the 300 block of Mary Street, had returned home just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"There was just a strange bike sitting out on the walk," Cody Fuhrman said.
Once inside, they saw that someone had broken in, as the back bedroom door and window were both open. Fuhrman armed himself with a handgun while Emily went outside to call 911, police said. She also alerted a neighbor, who armed himself and came to assist, police said.
Fuhrman searched the home and found Wallace hiding in a closet after his dogs alerted him to the spot.
"The dogs just zeroed in on the closet," Fuhrman said.
Wallace refused to come out, then tried to leave through the window. Fuhrman put Wallace in a choke hold that police said rendered him semiconscious and held him until police arrived.
Fuhrman said the encounter rattled him a little, but that he and his wife are OK.
Officers came to make an arrest and found property Wallace had taken from the home, police said. Investigators suspect he broke in through a window.
Wallace is also alleged to have taken a purse from a vehicle parked on the street, but the purse wasn't found. Police said he also possessed methamphetamine, heroin and a knife, which he did not use during the fight.
"We do believe that he was under the influence of methamphetamine and probably heroin," said Lt. Mike Budreau of Medford police. "The officers at the scene certainly felt he was heavily under the influence."
Police took Wallace to Providence Medford Medical Center to be checked so they could then take him to jail. The 5-foot-4, 135-pound Wallace escaped by slipping out of his handcuffs, probably because of his size, Budreau said.
"In some rare cases, suspects are able to do that," Budreau said.
The officer attempted to stop him with a stun gun, but he escaped, police said. The officer gave chase until losing sight of Wallace on Woodrow Lane.
Officers and a dog searched, but didn't find him.
At 12:30 Thursday morning, three hours after Wallace escaped, Medford resident Dustin Morris, 20, spotted him. He had been taking a walk around the block after returning home from work when a police car sped by, lights flashing, Morris said. Soon after, Wallace ran past him to the driveway of a nearby apartment complex, he said.
"He crossed in front of me — he was really close," Morris said.
He called 911 to report a suspicious person near the apartment complex in the 1000 block of Spring Street and continued his walk. He then flagged down a police car and explained what he'd just seen.
Police flocked to the complex and found Wallace hiding in a car. He resisted during an arrest attempt, which necessitated four officers to remove him from the car and detain him, police said. Police allege he broke into the car they found him in and stole some clothing from a nearby home.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at email@example.com.