Prison escapee convicted of Morro Bay robbery is captured in Oregon

Joshua Lee Drinnon
Joshua Lee Drinnon

After more than a month on the run, a man convicted of a 2010 Morro Bay armed robbery who escaped prison while being transported through Illinois last month was captured in Oregon on Monday morning by members of a joint state and federal task force.

A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman confirmed Monday afternoon that Joshua Lee Drinnon, 35, was located at a homeless shelter in the city of Ashland, more than 2,000 miles from where he was last seen scaling a fence and disappearing into a cornfield.

Drinnon was serving a 17-year sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego. On Sept. 2, a privately contracted prison transport unit carrying him back to San Diego from a court hearing in Tennessee stopped at a rest stop off Interstate 80, about 5 miles outside of Princeton, Ill. Drinnon somehow was able to escape his restraints and flee past guards, climbing a fence and disappearing into a cornfield, officials said.

Local authorities suspended their search after 24 hours, and the CDCR Office of Correctional Safety formed a joint task force with the U.S. Marshal Service to locate him.

Members of the task force found him at the Ashland homeless center Monday morning and arrested him without incident.

The Ashland Police Department took Drinnon to a local detention facility, where he will face extradition to California.

Steve Jurmin, supervisory deputy U.S. marshal for the San Diego Fugitive Task Force, was not available for comment Monday, but CDCR Office of Correctional Safety Chief Derrick Marion said in a written statement: “We can credit the diligence of our agents and our partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service for locating a dangerous offender and taking him off the streets.”

Drinnon was convicted of robbing a Morro Bay hotel at knifepoint and was scheduled to be released on parole in 2025, according to CDCR. After that, he would have been transported to Tennessee to serve a six-year sentence for another robbery conviction he received before his escape.

CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton said the task force had “some indication” about how Drinnon managed to travel so far while on the run but declined to elaborate while the investigation into his escape and activities thereafter continues.

She added the task force will make a recommendation for additional charges at the conclusion of that investigation.

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