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Cops quickly nab escapee

Patrick ParkinsonOf the Record staff

Summit County detectives searched for about seven hours Monday morning before apprehending a 26-year-old man who allegedly escaped from custody at about 3 a.m.

Investigators tracked Charles Van McGurdy to Salt Lake County after he attempted to cash a stolen check, Summit County Sheriff Dave Edmunds said.

According to a Utah Department of Corrections press release, Midvale police officers arrested McGurdy Monday around 10:30 a.m.

"We’re bringing him back and we hooked up two other accomplices for helping," the sheriff said, adding, "our detectives did one hell of a job knocking this guy down."

Though he has several past criminal convictions, Edmunds said McGurdy is not violent.

"No violent offenders ever leave the premises," he said.

When he escaped, the prisoner was helping do laundry for a Kimball Junction hotel as part of a work-release program offered by the Sheriff’s Office to inmates, Edmunds said.

According to the Department of Corrections, in 1998 McGurdy was convicted of arranging to distribute a controlled substance. Also, he was reportedly convicted in Eighth District Court in Vernal of possession of a controlled substance in 2003 and forgery and drug possession in 2004.

The state contracts with Summit County to house McGurdy.

"He was a model inmate. He was not a discipline problem," Edmunds said, adding that deputies conduct "litmus tests" before prisoners can participate in work details. "He was one of those people who was putting on a façade and as soon as he had his chance, he ran."

Meanwhile, the sheriff praised work-release programs at the Summit County Jail for generating revenue to operate the facility.

"These people also learn responsibility and they learn how to do a job that maybe they could do when they get outside the jail," Edmunds said.

Whether inmates are released for employment depends on their criminal history and behavior while incarcerated.

McGurdy was the first inmate to escape from a work-release program in Summit County during Edmunds’ administration, the sheriff said, adding that nobody has escaped from the Summit County Jail since the facility opened in the mid-1990s.

Prior to his escape, the prisoner was slated for release within the next few weeks, Edmunds said.

"He’ll spend quite a bit more time in the pokey now, where if he would have just played by the rules, he would have been out later on this month," the sheriff said. "I could see him getting another year for this."

McGurdy could spend the remainder of his prison sentence in a maximum-security detention facility in Draper.

A first-term Republican, Edmunds is up for re-election in November. He is facing a challenge from Kamas police officer Scott Mark, a Democrat who lives in Francis.


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