Escapee, ex-fugitive back from Mexico

Shane Johnson

A Clifton man who escaped from the Mesa County Jail two years ago is back home.

Shane Edward Johnson, 42, whose jailbreak prompted internal investigations at the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department and a host of policy and design changes at the jail, was booked again into the jail around 11 p.m. Wednesday, Sheriff Stan Hilkey said.

Hilkey said Johnson was handed over Wednesday by Mexico authorities to an FBI agent in the Baja California region of Mexico. Johnson was escorted on a flight to Houston, where they were met Wednesday by two sheriff’s department employees for a flight to Grand Junction, Hilkey said.

Johnson will be held in a maximum security section of the jail and will make an initial court appearance today.

“He outsmarted us once,” Hilkey said. “It certainly represents a piece of our history we wish would have never happened.”

Johnson had been wanted on a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution since the Sept. 9, 2008, escape in which Johnson allegedly used hacksaw blades smuggled into the facility to cut through a steel-mesh roof section. He managed to go unnoticed when he stayed behind in an exercise yard in the jail. He completed the escape by using bed sheets, which were tied together, to slide down the side of the building where then-wife Marilynne Johnson was waiting in a getaway car.

The Johnsons were arrested by authorities in Mexico in January 2009 in connection with a series of residential burglaries in Baja California. She was extradited soon after, but Shane Johnson remained in custody. Local authorities have said it’s unclear why Mexico authorities declined to prosecute Shane Johnson for the burglaries there.

Marilynne Johnson in February was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit escape.

Rodney Price, 32, was sentenced to eight years in prison earlier this month after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit escape. Authorities alleged he mailed the blades used by Johnson during the escape, a charge Price adamantly denied, despite his guilty plea.

Shane Johnson’s escape happened eight days before he faced a potential life sentence in prison related to a series in burglaries in Mesa County.


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