Covered in mud, Stout is found near Lancaster school

September 09, 2004|EMILY BURTON

LANCASTER - Escaped counterfeit suspect Benji Stout was recaptured by police Wednesday morning inside Lancaster city limits covered in mud and dressed in unusual clothing, possibly women's.

While police first believed he might have fled the area after Tuesday's escape from custody, Stout had apparently broken into several homes in the area and was found hiding under the backyard deck of a home next door to Lancaster Elementary School. He had slipped from his shackles while being transported to court in Garrard County Tuesday morning.

State Police say Stout was arrested without incident, but finding an escaped prisoner in his backyard, said Paul Baker, was a heart-stopping ordeal.

"When you see it all over the news, prisoner at large, and then you get a call saying he's at your house ... It's shocking. My heart just dropped," Baker said.


After Baker, his two children and his wife had left their North Paulding Street home Wednesday morning, Stout apparently broke through a back door, took a checkbook and the cordless phone and hid under the deck. In the early morning drizzle and low temperatures, the 8-inch crawl space under the deck had turned into a cold mud.

When police arrived, Baker said they called him at work to ask if there were any guns in the house. At that point, Baker started worrying about his children. They had been at the house for an hour after he left that morning while Stout was in the area.

"They said, 'We think he's in your house,' and I said, 'Oh great'," Baker said. He was told Stout also broke into his neighbor's house, empty and awaiting auction, before coming to his home.

It was about 9 a.m. when police first called Baker, but his two dogs had been on alert since 1 a.m.

Early in the morning, the Baker's border collie mix, Priscilla, had whined to go out. Baker said he watched her sniff around the backyard as if searching for something before coming in.

They called phone Stout had taken

Police searched through surrounding homes for Stout but centered their focus on the Baker residence. When they noticed the family's cordless phone missing they decided to call it. Stout was apparently under the deck, pressed up against the house, when it rang. It looked like Stout removed the battery pack from the phone before police could follow the ring said Baker. His muddy cordless phone, minus the batteries, was later dragged out from under the deck with the suspect.

Garrard County Sheriff's Deputy Bobby Amon located Stout under the deck at approximately 9:50 a.m. It was really a matter of being in the right place at the right time, Amon said. Everyone involved with the search was cold, wet and muddy by the time he shone his flashlight under the deck. Finding Stout was a group effort, Amon added.

"We had searched everywhere else, and I didn't want to leave anything (unchecked)," Amon said.

"He crawled back in there as far as he could go, he was laying right up against the house," Baker said police had told him. "I'm just surprised he was still in this vicinity with all the police looking for him."

Stout was covered in mud and dressed in women's clothing, Baker said police told him. Amon agreed the outfit was odd, but said Stout was so muddy it was hard to identify the clothing.

Stout had been facing 75 counts of first-degree possession of a forged instrument after police say he was found with counterfeit $100 bills at his Lancaster residence in August. At that time, he was also charged with escape and third-degree assault after slipping a handcuff and shoving a sheriff's deputy out of the way during his brief flight attempt.

After Wednesday's arrest, Stout now faces additional charges of second-degree escape and two counts of second-degree burglary. He is being housed in the Boyle County Detention Center.

Central Kentucky News Articles