FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A former personal trainer who broke free from an Arizona jail by hoisting himself atop a basketball hoop and pulling apart a security fence is back in custody after months on the run, authorities said Tuesday.
Authorities caught up with Wade Cole Dickinson on Monday night watching television at a small apartment near the Las Vegas Strip. He was arrested without incident after initially denying he knew why authorities were at his door, said David Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona.
Dickinson fled the Camp Verde jail on July 12 while awaiting transfer to a state prison where he was to spend nearly 25 years for fraud, drugs and possessing a firearm. Authorities said he spent some time in Yavapai and Coconino counties before they lost contact with him. They later traced him to the Las Vegas area, where he wasn't working but had $1,500 in cash.
"As far as we could tell, he was just laying low," Gonzales said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Authorities said they are still looking into who might have helped Dickinson, who dropped 30 pounds and marked his 29th birthday while on the lam. There's no indication Dickinson committed any violent acts while out of jail, but authorities said he's an adept con man.
"We are very much focused now on how Mr. Dickinson was able to elude us," Yavapai County sheriff's Lt. Tom Boelts said.
An investigative report released weeks after the escape said Dickinson was misclassified as a medium-security inmate, despite being a known flight risk. Extra security was on hand during his court appearances, but he wasn't as closely watched in the jail's housing unit.
No one was directly supervising the recreation yard when Dickinson broke out a security camera with a basketball, climbed atop the basketball hoop, grabbed on to an overhead security fence and pulled it apart, the report said. The 6-foot-1 Dickinson then ran across a roof and dropped about 30 feet before scaling an exterior fence with barbed wire, Sheriff Scott Mascher has said.
Dickinson was discovered missing when someone called 911 to report a man in orange pants and a white shirt trying to steal a vehicle at a Camp Verde business.
The basketball hoop was removed from the jail the day Dickinson escaped, and the sheriff's office has changed its inmate classification system and secured cameras so that they cannot be damaged from the outside, said sheriff's Capt. David Rhodes.