Murder suspect arrested after weeks-long manhunt in Kittitas County
Jorge Alcantara-Gonzalez was found and arrested Sunday, ending the longest manhunt in Kittitas County history, the sheriff’s office reported:
On Sunday afternoon, a local resident was walking in his neighborhood in the Teanaway area when he saw someone inside the house of a neighbor and called 911. Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office and Officers from the US Forest Service and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife surrounded the home and called Alcantara out. He complied with their orders and warnings and was taken into custody without incident.
Alcantara-Gonzalez had been wanted on a warrant for the murder of Ian Eckles, a 41-year-old hunter from Kent who disappeared near the town of Liberty on or around May 17.
Deputies suspect Alcantara-Gonzalez had broken into many local homes to steal items that helped him stay on the run for 23 days before he was caught around 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
A large area of forest land was closed to traffic for many days while investigators from many agencies worked to track down Alcantara-Gonzalez, who was known to be armed and dangerous.
“The arrest of Jorge Alcantara concludes an uncertain and dangerous time for our County,” Sheriff Clay Myers said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful for the assistance of the residents of the Liberty and Teanaway areas, who have been constantly supportive throughout this time. We can now turn our attention to the successful prosecution of the crimes this suspect has committed and, most urgently, to finding and recovering the body of Ian Eckles and giving his family peace.”
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Friends say Eckles was on his way to Liberty to meet them for a hunting trip the morning of May 17. His friends contacted the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office on Monday after he didn’t show up for work.
Investigators say Alcantara-Gonzalez was seen running from Eckles’ silver 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser when it was found on a forest road in the woods. Inside the SUV, detectives say, was “forensic and circumstantial evidence” that led them to believe Alcantara-Gonzales had murdered Eckles.
Authorities believe the suspected murderer killed Eckles for his SUV and possibly other supplies. Deputies say a second vehicle found nearby had been stolen from Fall City and connected to burglaries in the First Creek area.
Several recreational lands and campgrounds fin Kittitas County were closed earlier this month while deputies searched for Alcantara-Gonzales, who they believed to be hiding in the forest or other rough terrain.
He was previously spotted in early June by trained investigators posing as hikers; he ran away after the law enforcers identified themselves, the sheriff’s office said.
Alcantara-Gonzales was also seen May 26 when he was spooked by a camper and ran away in the Mineral Springs campground off Highway 97 at Blewett Pass.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say Alcantara-Gonzalez is a Mexican national who is in the country illegally.