Clifton fugitive caught in Mexico

A Clifton man and career criminal who faced life in prison when he escaped from the Mesa County detention facility in September was picked up Saturday in Mexico by Mexican authorities.

Shane Edward Johnson, 40, was arrested in Baja California with his wife, Marilynne Ann Johnson, 46, of Colorado Springs. Police allege she helped Johnson escape from the jail Sept. 9 after he left a group of inmates in a covered exercise yard and hid until the evening lockdown.

“Our investigation had developed leads that led to Baja,” Sheriff Stan Hilkey said, adding a warrant for Marilynne Johnson was obtained Tuesday. “Initially, there was some confusion over, ‘Did they have the right guy.’ ”

Johnson presented false identification to Mexican authorities when he was arrested, Hilkey said, but a federal warrant for Johnson’s arrest prompted Mexican police to contact U.S.
authorities.

The Sheriff’s Department is working with federal and Mexican authorities to have Johnson returned, Hilkey said, but Mexican authorities will hold a deportation hearing for Johnson to determine whether he will be prosecuted in Mexico for charges he faces there or be sent to Mesa County to face escape charges in addition to his other offenses. Hilkey said he does not know what charges Johnson faces in Mexico.

The best time frame for Johnson’s return is within 30 days, Hilkey said.

“The Mexican government knows we want him back,” Hilkey said. “We won’t let him fall through the cracks down there.”

Johnson’s wife and another inmate, Rodney Price, whom Johnson met in jail, face charges of introducing contraband, conspiracy to assist in an escape and aiding in an escape, Hilkey said.

Marilynne Johnson could be deported faster than her husband because she is not facing charges in Mexico, Hilkey said.

Price is currently in the Colorado Department of Corrections system, but was in and out of jail when he allegedly helped Johnson plan his escape, Hilkey said.

Updated information about how Johnson escaped could not be released, Hilkey said, adding he didn’t know where else Johnson may have gone on his way to Mexico.

Johnson escaped about a week before he was to be sentenced on dozens of charges, mostly for burglarizing homes and stealing cars during a crime spree between May and August 2006 that could have put him in prison for more than 150 years.

Hilkey said structural and policy changes have been made at the jail to prevent another escape, and he has dealt with “personnel issues” in connection with the incident.

“We’ve plugged all the holes we’ve identified,” Hilkey said.


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