Persistence, patience led to Monical's capture
From the front doors of the Jackson County Jail to the halls of the sheriff's department, everywhere Sheriff Mike Winters looked he saw the bug-eyed, half-smirking face of the bane of his law-enforcement life.
The "Wanted" poster of jail escapee Bradley William Monical has been plastered everywhere in the sheriff's offices since last November, when the convicted bank robber jumped from the jail roof into a nearby tree to escape — triggering a manhunt that stretched from downtown Medford to as far away as Texas.
Winters never steered his eyes clear of those posters, no matter how embarrassed he felt.
"I took it very personally," Winters says. "I couldn't bear the thought of someone getting hurt while he was out."
"I thought about this case every single day since his escape," Winters says. "You can't forget, but you've got to be patient."
That patience paid in spades Tuesday when U.S. Marshals Service agents, acting on a fresh lead, found and captured Monical peacefully at a rural Oregon City residence, ending his life on the lam that lasted one week shy of a year.
The "Wanted" posters are down now, and Monical's image is exactly where Winters believed it would one day be — the "Medford Mugshots" webpage of new Jackson County Jail inmates.
"We made a mistake in the beginning," Winters says. "He made a mistake in the end. And when he did, we were ready."
Monical, 43, was lodged Wednesday in the local jail on escape and several other charges, ranging from felony escape and first-degree robbery to out-of-county charges of first-degree robbery and attempted murder.
"I slept really well Wednesday," Winters says.
The robbery charges are for a string of bank heists across the state, including one in Ashland for which he was jailed in August 2011 while awaiting a scheduled March 2013 trial, records show.
The attempted murder charge is out of Marion County, where Monical allegedly fired a shot at citizens chasing him after a bank robbery there, sheriff's spokesman Andrea Carlson says. No one was hit, she says.
Monical has returned to a jail that is quite different from the one he escaped by standing on a fellow inmate's shoulders in the jail's recreation hall, pushing free a piece of metal mesh to get on the roof, and eventually leaping into a nearby tree to freedom.
The mesh is gone, replaced by bars. The abetting tree and every other one like it around the jail fell to saws the day of his escape. Winters vowed to capture Monical.
"We took ownership of this in the beginning," Winters says. "Obviously, I wish it wouldn't have happened, but it did."
Sheriff's deputies worked with U.S. marshals on the case, with deputies focusing on all leads within the county and marshals looking at everything outside of it.
Detectives here spent countless hours running down prospective leads, including that the self-professed outdoorsman might be hiding in one of several caves in Southern Oregon, says Winters, who would not be specific.
Marshals agents ran down leads, interviewed family members and conducted surveillance during a search that stretched to Texas and New Mexico, says Russ Burger, the U.S. marshal for the District of Oregon.
A stint on America's Most Wanted in January netted leads that didn't pan out, Burger says.
A deputy U.S. marshal checking on a lead in the East Portland area Tuesday afternoon spied Monical in a second-floor window, Burger says. He was thinner and had grown some hair on his once bald head, but it was Monical.
"There was no doubt," Burger says.
Police then surrounded the residence and called out Monical, who surrendered peacefully, Burger says.
"We expect the worst all the time, so it was a relief he did not resist," Burger says.
Burger says investigators believe Monical had been on the move during the past year, and they believe he had been in the Portland area just two days before his capture.
An unidentified woman with Monical at the time of his capture is being investigated for aiding him during his time on the lam, Burger says. No weapons were seized, he says.
Burger declined to elaborate further on details of the capture.
Burger says Monical has been cooperative and "somewhat" talkative with investigators.
"Last night was a good night for me," Winters says. "It's a huge relief. We were embarrassed that it happened in the first place."
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.