MONROE, Wash. -
Authorities searched woods east of North Bend for an inmate who escaped from the Monroe state prison with only three months left on his sentence, but police now believe the escapee is on the road.
No one knows why 37-year-old Brandon Musto fled the minimum security unit of the Monroe Correctional Complex on Wednesday night with only three months left on his sentence for vehicular assault, drugs and theft.
Detectives said 59-year-old McCleary man Rupert Soriano helped Musto escape by transporting him from the prison. Soriano was arrested on charges of rendering criminal assistance Thursday morning. Investigators said he at first refused to say where he drove Musto. Soriano later admitted he dropped Musto off in the woods off exit 38 from eastbound I-90 near North Bend with supplies that could help Musto survive for days, police said.
"We do know he was given a couple bags of equipment," said Monroe police spokeswoman Debbie Willis.
King County deputies and Monroe police are searching woods in the area. Officers said they don't know if Musto is armed.
"We have officers that are trained in what they call man-tracking. So, they are trained to observe things in the woods and in the trails that a normal person wouldn't be looking for," said Willis.
Investigators later said they thought Musto was on the move and may be in a car.
According to probable cause documents, there had been "cryptic" phone calls between Musto and Soriano while Musto was jailed, and Soriano's phone was the only number Musto called during his incarceration in Monroe. Documents said they were able to "ping" Soriano's cellphone and determine that the phone was in Monroe minutes before Musto's escape.
When police went to Soriano's home and inspected his car, detectives found blood on the interior and exterior of the vehicle, the police report said. Officers said pieces of clothing were found in the razor wire at the top of the prison's fence, where Musto may have been cut while escaping.
Musto’s mother said she’s concerned for her son’s safety. She said she doesn’t expect to hear from him.
“This is the first place they would look for him. So, I know he won't come here or call here. I know it,” said Catherine Musto. "I'm wondering why (he escaped) because he only had three months left. And he had been doing so well. He hasn't had one infraction since he's been in. It's just so crazy. I don't understand it," she said.
If found and convicted, Musto could be sentenced to serve seven more years in prison.