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WA officials apprehend prison escapee in Seattle

A close up photo of Patrick Lester Clay. He is a bald Black man, with some gray in his facial hair, which includes a mustache and short beard.
Department of Corrections
Patrick Lester Clay escaped from Monroe Corrections Center early Friday, April 26, 2024.

Washington officials say a man who escaped a minimum security prison north of Seattle last week is now back in state custody.

Patrick Lester Clay, 59, escaped the Monroe Correctional Complex around 7:40 a.m. on April 26 by breaking into a staff office and stealing car keys.

Officials said in a statement that Clay had been captured in Seattle's Beacon Hill neighborhood "without incident" on Monday night. Officials found the white truck he had been driving abandoned in the Central District earlier that day.

The department says Clay will be placed in restrictive housing, and that his case will be referred to local prosecutors to pursue escape and auto theft charges.

Clay was already serving time for burglary, harassment and theft charges in King County, and was scheduled to be released at the end of 2025.

The last time a prisoner escaped from a Department of Corrections facility was in 2022 after a prisoner climbed over a fence at Coyote Ridge Correction Center in Southeastern Washington.

Last year, several children at the Echo Glen juvenile detention facility near Snoqualmie escaped or attempted to. But that facility is overseen by the state’s Department of Youth and Families and not the Department of Corrections.

Jeanie Lindsay is a radio reporter based in Olympia who covers the Washington state government beat for the Northwest News Network, the Pacific Northwest's regional collaboration of NPR stations.