Harlan Hale either really hates jail, or really loves the BW True Crime page. Either way, the 39-year-old alleged home invader, police-assaulter and onetime BW editorial contributor is free after escaping from Ada County lockdown last weekend. (We didn't mean that stuff we said about your handwriting, Harlan. Scout's honor.)
According to the Ada County Sheriff's Department, Hale was being allowed his legally mandated one hour of sunlight a day (stupid Geneva Convention!) when deputies returned him to his cell area without locking two interior doors. Then they removed his leg shackles prior to putting him in the cell, and allowed Hale a few seconds of free movement, which he used quite effectively. Hale reportedly ran through the unlocked doors, busted through a chain link gate whose lock had failed, climbed over two razor-wire-topped fences, across a rooftop and on to freedom-where he promptly hijacked a car. Where were the officers during all this? If it were an old-West movie (which it sounds like it was), Hale would have somehow locked them in his cell. In this case, suffice it to say four employees are on administrative leave and details are still very, very sketchy.
Hale is thought to be on the lam with 36-year-old Tracey Gonzales, a former acquaintance who went missing soon after Hale was sprung. Police also say he may have pre-planned his escape, and may have substantial funds set aside (after all, he did ask BW readers for money in a May 4 letter to the editor). If caught, Hale will stand trial for multiple charges including attempted murder of a police officer. He has also shed the devilish facial hair that characterized his last appearance, exposing his ruddy good looks and a pleasant demeanor that would never dream of hurting any well-meaning local crime writers.
As commemoration of this, Hale's fifth appearance in BW, we are making the renegade our honorary Fugitive Editor-At-Large. (Although we may hold off on the ceremony until he is apprehended.) With this designation, Hale moves beyond such second-tier BW criminals as The Scalper, the Montana church-deacon who had six-months of online sexcapades with a bunch of Boise cops pretending to be a 14-year-old girl, and the woman who threatened to blow up the Eagle Hilton Garden Inn from Florida.