Escaped Convict Captured After Five-Day Stay in Jessup Woods

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David Watson, captured. Photo via Howard County Police Department.

After nearly a week on the lam in the woods near a state-run mental hospital in Jessup, David Watson is back behind bars.

Police said they captured the escaped convict last night around 9:40 p.m. in the woods not far from where he got loose late last week.

Watson, a 28-year-old Delaware man convicted of attempted murder in 2012 for shooting into a police officer’s house, escaped from corrections officers last Friday while being transported from the Wicomico County Detention Center to Clifton Perkins Hospital in Howard County for a mental health evaluation. Police said he got took off into the woods off of Dorsey Run Road after he knocked down a guard who had opened the transport vehicles doors.

He’s serving a 106-year sentence for the shooting in Delaware and has also been charged with attempted murder in Maryland for shooting at two officers’ houses.

After three days and few breaks in the investigation – save for finding some clothes shed by Watson – the U.S. Marshals took over the search and authorities offered a $10,000 reward for tips leading to his capture. As the days passed, it seemed as though Watson could have made a successful escape from the county.

However, police revealed last night that he actually didn’t get very far at all. It appears he spent much of his time camping out in an 18-inch drainage pipe not far from where he went missing.

Yesterday morning, a tipster in Howard County called 911 and said he or she had spotted a man near the railroad tracks behind a building near Patuxent Range and Dorsey Road roads. The caller said the man in question was wearing a white hard hat and a safety vest and ran away after he was spotted.

The drain pipe where police say they found Watson. Photo via Howard County Police Department.

Authorities searched all day, using bloodhounds, K-9 units, helicopters and groups of officers on foot. After having no luck in daylight, they tried again that evening. Using night vision goggles, they spotted their man hiding inside the pipe.

Officers pulled him out and took him into custody, keeping him at Central Booking in Howard County overnight. Police described him as being in “good condition,” aside from a few scrapes and injuries suffered during his stay in the woods.

The department released new photos of Watson and the drain pipe where he was found this morning. In a release, police said they determined he was moving around in at least a mile-wide radius during his time on the run. Watson appears to have stolen the hard hat and safety vest; police said there was a break-in nearby in which those same items were taken.

Police said this morning that the person who made that fateful call is eligible for the reward.

Watson will be transferred in a “maximum-security transport” back to Delaware to serve the rest of his sentence, police said.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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