Documents: Bozeman escapee aided by 2 in Missoula, plans to go to Russia

2014-02-11T07:57:00Z 2014-04-16T09:10:06Z Documents: Bozeman escapee aided by 2 in Missoula, plans to go to RussiaBy KATHRYN HAAKE Missoulian The Billings Gazette
February 11, 2014 7:57 am  • 

MISSOULA — Kevin Briggs, the convicted rapist who escaped custody in Bozeman earlier this month, was aided in his flight by two Missoula residents and eventually intends to sail to Russia.

According to charging documents filed in U.S. District Court in Missoula, Briggs has an elaborate plan to escape prosecution on a new attempted rape charge by heading west to Seattle and hiding at homeless shelters until he can earn enough money to make his way to Mexico, and then sail to Russia.

There, Briggs believes he would be free from extradition back to the United States.

The information on Briggs' whereabouts since escaping the Gallatin County Law and Justice Center early on the morning of Feb. 1 was part of a federal complaint accusing him of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Briggs was shackled and handcuffed when Bozeman police left him unguarded for 10 minutes during a shift change.

He faces four felony counts in Gallatin County for allegedly assaulting and attempting to rape his former girlfriend, assaulting the police officers who responded and escaping custody.

According to the federal complaint, Briggs was in contact with several people in Missoula after fleeing Bozeman.

On the evening of Feb. 1, Briggs arrived at the home of Missoula resident Matthew Keiss, who offered the suspect his garage for the night. Briggs allegedly asked Keiss for money and said he intended to leave the state early the next morning, the complaint stated.

On Feb. 4, Keiss informed Bozeman police of his interaction with the suspect, the complaint stated. That led to a citywide alert being issued by the Missoula Police Department and the University of Montana on Feb. 5.

But the alert came too late. According to the complaint, Briggs had already left the state.

Another contact, who was not identified by name in the complaint, gave Briggs a ride to the Missoula bus depot on Feb. 2 and also gave him money to purchase a one-way bus ticket to Spokane.

According to the complaint, the unidentified source told police that Briggs intended to travel across Washington state to Seattle. There, he planned to bounce around between homeless shelters until he earned enough money to head south through Oregon, California and eventually escape into Mexico.

"Briggs would then enter into Mexico not using a border station, traveling further south where he eventually planned to take a ship across the Atlantic Ocean and get to Russia, where Briggs is aware there is no extradition," the complaint stated.

The unnamed source also indicated that Briggs plans to grow his hair and facial hair long and dye it black in an attempt to elude law enforcement detection.

Briggs was last seen on the morning of Feb. 2 at the Missoula bus depot by the unnamed source. A person matching Briggs' description was also caught on the depot's video surveillance at the same time. He has been at large since.

"Since Briggs' escape, Bozeman Police Department detectives have determined that Briggs had previously stated his intention to escape custody if he was ever arrested again and had done research on countries with no extradition to the United States," the complaint stated.

According to the federal complaint, the felony charges in Gallatin County stem from events that occurred on Feb. 1, when Briggs stayed the night in his ex-girlfriend's home in Bozeman.

That night, the woman woke to find Briggs allegedly attempting to have sex with her. Briggs apparently became upset when the woman repeatedly asked him to stop and he began choking her, the complaint stated.

The woman was able to escape from Briggs, but he allegedly grabbed a kitchen knife. A struggle ensued until the woman gained possession of the knife, but Briggs reportedly grabbed another knife and threatened to take his own life.

The woman fled from her home and called police from a friend's house.

Bozeman police responded, and Briggs allegedly lied to them about his name and address before attempting to flee. He also allegedly tried to resist arrest - striking one of the officers in the face - before being subdued and taken into custody, the complaint stated.

He was restrained in a belly belt, handcuffs and shackles and brought to the Law and Justice Center in Bozeman, but escaped from an observation room at 7:50 a.m. and fled to Missoula.

It was the third time Briggs has escaped from custody. Previously convicted of raping and kidnapping a Helena girl in 2003, Briggs escaped from the Lewis and Clark County Detention Facility and the Powell County Detention Facility in two prior incidents.

The Gallatin County Attorney's Office has charged Briggs with aggravated assault, attempted sexual intercourse without consent, assault on a peace officer and escape - all felonies for his alleged behavior against his ex-girlfriend and responding law enforcement.

The federal charge of unlawful flight was filed because there is no similar charge available in state courts.

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