Fugitive spotted in homemade trailer after 3-day manhunt

AP News
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Posted: Sep 10, 2015 5:55 PM
Fugitive spotted in homemade trailer after 3-day manhunt

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana authorities captured an exhausted and suicidal fugitive charged with killing a man, finding him holed up in an abandoned homemade trailer littered with rat droppings, officials said Thursday.

The three-day manhunt for Branden Conrad Miesmer, 26, ended Wednesday evening after a deputy spotted the 10-by-8-foot trailer's open door in a ravine in the Hauser Dam area 20 miles north of Helena, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said.

Miesmer is charged with homicide in the shooting death of Cody Steve Bruyere, 26, in Great Falls. He made a court appearance Thursday by video from the Lewis and Clark Detention Center, where he declined the justice of the peace's offer to appoint an attorney.

Justice of the Peace Michael Swingley read Miesmer the Cascade County warrant for his arrest. Swingley informed him that bail had been set at $1.5 million, and he would be transported to Great Falls to face the charge of deliberate homicide.

Miesmer took refuge in the trailer Wednesday after skirting more than 100 law-enforcement officials searching the hills surrounding Black Sandy State Park, Dutton said.

He had wrapped his bare, blistered feet in clothing after losing his sandals at the onset of the chase. He had not eaten or had anything to drink in three days and appeared to be at the end of his rope, the sheriff said.

"He couldn't take it anymore," Dutton said Miesmer told him. "He was tired, thirsty and this was going to be his last day."

Miesmer was armed with a .40-caliber handgun, but he did not resist arrest when the SWAT team descended on the trailer, the sheriff said.

Officials had been going door to door and searching by ground and air for Miesmer over three days. The manhunt covered the hills north of Lincoln Road between Interstate 15 and Hauser Dam Road, a rural area with year-round homes and seasonal cabins.

A man and a woman reported that Miesmer forced them to drive him to Helena, where he carjacked another vehicle Monday morning and drove toward Black Sandy State Park near Hauser Dam, authorities said. Miesmer was found less than 2 miles from where he left the car, the sheriff said.

He was being held at the Lewis and Clark County jail after being treated at a hospital.

Miesmer was under investigation for drug trafficking, Cascade County Attorney John Parker said in court documents. The shooting victim also was believed to be been involved in drug sales.

Bruyere was shot once in the head, and a .45-caliber casing, marijuana and other drug paraphernalia were found nearby, according to charging documents.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's officials said Miesmer had a Facebook account under the name of Branden Alexandria. The account shows pictures of Miesmer and included posts that said he moved to the Phoenix area in 2013 and has family in Great Falls.

Other posts said he is an Army veteran, that he had worked on oil rigs in North Dakota and was pursuing a rap career using the name XTA-C.

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Associated Press writers Amy Hanson and Ivan Moreno in Denver contributed to this report.