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Gerald Browneagle

Level 3 sex offender escapes from jail, captured in Bemidji after manhunt

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BEMIDJI -- After a daylong manhunt Saturday to find a Cass Lake man who escaped from the Beltrami County Jail, authorities captured him without incident in Bemidji.

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After a daylong manhunt Saturday to find a Cass Lake man who escaped from the Beltrami County Jail, authorities captured him without incident in Bemidji.

Gerald Joseph Browneagle, 31, escaped from a minimum security area about 8:45 a.m., said Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp.

Browneagle has been held at the jail since March 30 on criminal sexual conduct charges, Hodapp said in a statement. He had been returned from North Dakota where he was a fugitive Level III predatory sexual offender.

"He was being held temporarily in the minimum security unit for the weekend and managed to escape through an open door while the corrections officer on duty, in that area, was distracted," Hodapp said. "Upon jail staff discovering the escape, Beltrami County Dispatch and officers were notified, as well as Cass County and other agencies, and the search began."

Authorities tracked leads and information regarding Browneagle's whereabouts, he said.

"Browneagle was located hiding in a residence in south Bemidji where he was taken into custody at approximately 6 p.m.," the sheriff said. "A second individual was also arrested with Browneagle and jailed on charges of harboring a fugitive."

Browneagle escaped wearing a blue jail jumpsuit and sandals. He is an American Indian, 6-foot-1, 317 pounds, with a tattoo "Negoni" on the right side of his neck and another tattoo on his left arm that includes the word "RIP."

Browneagle is from the Cass Lake area, Hodapp said.

In August 2008, Browneagle was arrested in North Dakota by the FBI Fugitive Task Force under a felony warrant for failure to register as a sex offender in Hennepin County and a misdemeanor probation violation warrant in Cass County, records show.

Browneagle is also a suspect in a sexual assault in March 2008 of a 12-year-old girl in Bemidji. Warrants were issued for first-degree criminal sexual conduct and failure to register as a sex offender, records show.

In 1995, Browneagle was convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct-personal injury, stranger, 13-15, female, for raping a 15-yearold girl who was unknown to him Jan. 29, 1994, in an alley, records show. He was sentenced in Hennepin County and began serving the sentence in July 1995. On Jan. 12, 2006, he began serving a sentence for third-degee assault for assaulting a woman he knew by forcibly trying to take her car keys in September 2003 in Minneapolis, The woman later received treatment for a fractured wrist. Browneagle was sentenced in Hennepin County.

In April 2006, Browneagle also began serving a sentence for another crime -- failure to register as a predatory offender in Anoka County. His most recent conviction expired in January 2007.

Hodapp said members of the Sheriff's Office worked with special agents of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Bemidji police officers and Headwaters Safe Trails/Paul Bunyan Task Force officers in apprehending Browneagle.

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