HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A fugitive suspected of killing a man in Great Falls was captured Wednesday after a three-day manhunt north of Helena that involved more than 100 officers from several agencies, the Lewis and Clark County undersheriff said.
Officers found Branden Conrad Miesmer, 26, at 5:45 p.m., said Undersheriff Dave Rau, adding that "everything went smooth" during the capture and that Miesmer did not struggle.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said Miesmer was in a homemade trailer in the bottom of a ravine.
Miesmer has been charged with homicide in the death of Cody Steve Bruyere, 26, in Great Falls late Sunday or early Monday. Miesmer will be held at the Lewis and Clark County jail. His first court appearance is expected Thursday morning, Rau said.
Officials had been going door-to-door and searching hillsides by ground and by air for Miesmer. More than 110 officers from agencies that include the FBI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and as far away as Gallatin County were involved in the manhunt.
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. He abandoned the car and fled on foot, leaving behind his sandals on the base of a steep hill, Dutton said. He said Miesmer was found about 1.5 miles from where he left the car.
Wednesday's search covered the hills north of Lincoln Road between Interstate 15 and Hauser Dam Road, a rural area with hundreds of scattered year-round homes and seasonal cabins. Officers also searched 10 to 15 residences that went unchecked in the 40 to 50 door-to-door searches previously conducted because they were locked and nobody was home at the time, Dutton said.
After each home was searched, an officer was posted there, he said.
Miesmer was believed to be armed with a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun. Dutton said he is a military veteran but he declined to elaborate.
Miesmer was under investigation for drug trafficking, Cascade County Attorney John Parker said in court documents. The shooting victim was believed to be been involved in the sale of illegal drugs as well.
According to charging documents, the victim was shot once in the head and a .45-caliber casing, marijuana and other drug paraphernalia were found nearby.