Yankton assistant police chief Jerry Hisek says he was notified Friday that state Division of Criminal Investigation found three of 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore's fingerprints at the scene of a June 18 break-in. The teen had already been named a suspect.
Harris-Moore, of Camano Island, Wash., has evaded authorities since April 2008, when he escaped from a halfway house south of Seattle. He is accused of breaking into dozens of homes since and committing burglaries across Washington, as well as in British Columbia, Idaho and Nebraska, where he is officially a wanted man.
An arrest warrant released Tuesday from Madison County, Nebraska detailed several break-ins, stolen cars, and attempted airplane thefts that investigators believe are connected to the infamous teen.
Authorities believe the 19-year-old is responsible for stealing property worth a total of up to $1.5 million, and has been on the run since he escaped from a Renton group home in April 2008.
He apparently began his trek out of the Northwest earlier in the spring, donating $100 to a Raymond animal hospital and stealing a $450,000 yacht from Illwaco, Wash. to get across the Columbia River. The yacht was recovered in Warrenton, Oregon, where police said Tuesday they used fingerprints to positively identify the thief as Harris-Moore.
Harris-Moore then reportedly went about stealing more cars as he made his way toward Idaho.
A few days after Harris-Moore's trail went cold in Boise, Idaho, on June 12, authorities in South Dakota noticed a vehicle with Washington plates had been abandoned in Spearfish. But now the trail leads further across the Midwest and into Illinois.
Detectives in Madison County, Nebraska have detailed a chain of events they believe are all connected to Harris-Moore:
• A car stolen from Spearfish, S.D. was recovered in Yankton, South Dakota.
• Also in Yankton on June 18 at 3 a.m., a homeowner called police to report he found a naked man inside home. The homeowner tried to catch the man, but the intruder pointed laser sight at homeowner and told him to leave. The homeowner told detectives he feared it was attached to gun and left. He called police, but the intruder fled before officers arrived. Officers canvassed the area and found there had been attempted break-ins at 12 other nearby homes. Detectives also noted a minivan had been stolen.
• The next night, someone tried to pry the doors open at the airport in Norfolk, Nebraska. Detectives found that someone had tried to use a broom handle to force open a cockpit window in an attempt to unlock the plane, but was not successful. Later, police recovered the stolen minivan from Yankton in a nearby park and discovered a Cadillac Escalade had been stolen from the airport.
• The stolen Escalade was recovered in Pella, Iowa, where another car was stolen. That vehicle was found dumped at the airport in Ottumwa, Iowa. Police there reported that someone had attempted to break into a plane, but was not successful there either.
• Detectives say yet another car was stolen from near the airport, and a few miles south of the airport, a Frito-Lay truck was burglarized and several bags of snack food were stolen.
• That stolen vehicle from Ottumwa was found in a ditch in Dallas City, Illinois, but the trail has gone cold from there.
Norfolk detectives say they obtained surveillance video from the break in at their airport, and sent it to the Seattle office of the FBI and the Island County Sheriff's Department, whose detectives are very familiar with Harris-Moore from his suspected capers through the years. Det. Sgt. Beech with Island County said he and his staff were "85 to 90 percent sure" the person shown in the surveillance video is Harris-Moore.
Investigators are also collecting DNA samples and fingerprints from the various break-ins in an effort to conclusively tie the break-ins to Harris-Moore. In the meantime, Harris-Moore is now a wanted man in Madison County, Nebraska, for investigation of burglary and theft.