Wanted man caught on Rabbit Ears Pass

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS A nearly 10-hour manhunt for a suspected rapist and kidnapper from Missouri ended on the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when Brian Dewayne Jackson was found lying unconscious in his own blood. His wrists had been slashed in an apparent suicide attempt, according to Routt County Sheriff John Warner.

Jackson, 25, regained consciousness, but was babbling incoherently when he was loaded into an ambulance for transport to Yampa Valley Medical Center at about 7:30 p.m., Warner said. Jackson was released from the hospital into the custody of Routt County deputies at about 9:45 p.m. and booked into the county jail.

Jackson was being sought by the FBI in Missouri on federal charges of forceful rape at knifepoint, kidnapping, illegal flight to avoid prosecution and burglary, according to Warner. It will be up to a U.S. attorney whether Jackson makes his first court appearance in Grand Junction or Denver, Warner said.

Almost 50 people took part in the daylong manhunt for Jackson, who was assumed to be armed and dangerous. In the end, it was a female dog named Pepper, part border collie and part dingo, that found the fugitive.

Pepper and her handler, Jim Vail, were one of two dog teams participating in the search.

Vail said he and his dog, along with Routt County deputy Tony Weiss and Scott Havener of Routt County Search and Rescue, had resumed the search Tuesday evening after giving Pepper a rest. Pepper quickly picked up a scent trail that had been found, then lost, by another dog earlier in the day.

Pepper found Jackson about 300 yards north of U.S. 40 near a westbound runaway truck ramp.

Havener was the first person on the scene, Vail said. Later, EMT and search and rescue President Jamie Neault arrived with another search and rescue member, Adam Christman, and gave the suspect medical attention.

Warner said Jackson was found unconscious with his legs straddling a tree. He added that evidence on the scene led him to conclude the fugitive had cut both his wrists while seated in a stand of dark timber, using a large "Bowie knife" with a bone handle and a blade 11 to 12 inches long. Warner theorized that some time after cutting his wrists, Jackson must have panicked, bolted downhill for about 25 yards before running into a tree. Jackson had lost a substantial amount of blood by the time he was found and Warner speculated he would not have survived the night.

The suspect was handcuffed as a matter of departmental procedure, Warner said, but even after regaining consciousness, did not put up a struggle or need to be restrained any further. Jackson was loaded onto a one-wheeled litter called a Stokes basket and taken out to U.S. 40.

"I have never, in 17 years of law enforcement, had to chase a potentially armed individual with four federal counts, into a wooded area," Warner said. "The successful conclusion of this search, I really believe, is a result of going slowly and methodically."

Law enforcement officials had been prepared to search through the night Tuesday. Routt County Emergency Management Director Chuck Vale was already working on the strategy for search operations on Wednesday.

Officers from the sheriff's offices in Moffat, Routt and Grand County were involved in the search for the presumably armed fugitive in heavy timber just north of U.S. 40. All of them carried rifles in addition to their standard service weapons. A privately owned helicopter and a Colorado State Patrol airplane based in Grand Junction also were involved in the effort.

Warner said late Tuesday afternoon he believed that Jackson was contained to an area of approximately 20 acres. It was in that area that he was ultimately found.

"He's got to be feeling the pressure now, with that helicopter and airplane," Warner said at about 4 p.m. "The teams are moving very slowly because of the overgrowth. That's the biggest problem. There are ferns in there that are 4 to 6 feet tall."

Although authorities had no specific information about weapons Jackson was carrying, the FBI had advised Warner to consider Jackson to be armed and dangerous.

At roadblocks Tuesday, authorities told motorists headed in both directions over Rabbit Ears Pass not to stop for any pedestrians or hitchhikers. Shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, officers also were stopping vehicles headed over the pass from Steamboat to warn them of the situation before they continued on.

The search for Jackson began locally after FBI agents in Missouri received a tip that their suspect was in the area. He had been camping on Rabbit Ears with a pregnant girlfriend, who went home to Missouri when her due date approached. Warner said he had information that Jackson expected to rejoin his girlfriend for the birth of the child, but could not say if the woman was the source of the tip to the FBI.

The FBI office in Glenwood Springs was notified of the suspect's believed whereabouts and agents there asked Warner on Monday afternoon to attempt to apprehend the suspect.

Warner said FBI special agents Ken Jackson and Craig Byrkit, together with four of his men, approached the fugitive's campsite on foot Tuesday morning, but when they entered the camp, he already was gone. As they prepared to leave, a passing motorist flagged them down and exclaimed that a man had just run across the highway, cut across the runaway truck ramp and fled into the forest.

Warner said unmarked cars immediately began patrolling U.S. 40 to cut off that avenue of escape.

Officers found a sleeping bag, two 5-gallon containers of water and a variety of canned goods at the campsite, Warner said. There was no sign of a campfire. Warner estimated that Jackson may have been in the camp for as long as three weeks.

Handlers for the two search dog teams used the sleeping bag to introduce their dogs to Jackson's scent.

Warner said the dogs followed the scent of the fleeing man away from the campsite and across the truck escape ramp into the woods. They continued into the afternoon when the heat and terrain slowed the dogs and they were given a rest.

Jackson was born in Mexico, Mo. He lived in Routt County briefly in 1998, working at the Steamboat Smokehouse, Warner said. During his time here, he was arrested for suspected second-degree burglary for a crime that occurred in Herman, Mo.

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