1 fugitive caught; 2nd still at large

RALSTON – Christony Pettit, one of two inmates who escaped recently from the Lycoming County Prison pre-release center, was captured early Monday morning in the Rock Run area of McIntyre Township.

His fellow escapee, Jarrett Houser, remained at large Monday night.

Pettit, 24, resided at 400 Glenwood Ave. and Houser, 38, lived at 2411 Lycoming Creek Road. The two Williamsport residents both were serving six-month sentences at the pre-release center for failure to pay child support.

Police have been searching for the pair since their escape from the facility on Sept. 29, when they allegedly fled out a door, according to police.

Early Monday morning, rangers from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources spotted a pair of suspicious men traveling on all-terrain vehicles along Rock Run Road. They pursued the pair about 8 miles, heading toward Ralston, according to Lycoming County Sheriff Mark Lusk.

The chase came to an abrupt end when Houser lost control of his four-wheeler.

“He hit pretty hard; his four-wheeler became impaled on a forestry gate,” Lusk said.

Although he appeared to be injured, Houser fled on foot.

In the chaos following the crash, Pettit also took off, still riding on his allegedly stolen ATV.

Rangers contacted the Lycoming County 911 Call Center for assistance.

In a massive group effort, sheriff’s deputies, the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force and state Game Commission officers were assisted by Old Lycoming Township, Pennsylvania College of Technology and state police officers in an exhaustive search. Ground lighting was provided by the Ralston and Old Lycoming Township fire departments.

The team covered about 3 square miles on foot but were unable to locate the fugitives, Lusk said.

After about six hours, they brought in tracking dogs, but the animals were unable to locate the pair.

At about 1 a.m. Monday morning, fugitive task force members spotted Pettit in the 2300 block of Northway Road in Loyalsock Township. He was alone and still in possesion of his stolen, red ATV, Lusk said.

Pettit was taken into custody without further incident and is incarcerated. County detectives are expected to file escape charges against Pettit, Lusk said.

Houser, however, remained at large Monday night. Police are working around the clock to locate the fugitive, and a special task force has been dedicated to the case.

“People in that area can expect to see a police presence as this search continues,” Lusk said.

Residents have been asked to remain vigilant and report any suspicious person immediately to police.

Houser is a white male with strawberry blonde hair and hazel eyes. He weighs about 180 pounds, stands 5 feet-10 inches tall and may be injured. More information and detailed pictures of Houser can be found at www.lyco.org/ElectedOfficials/Sheriff.aspx.

Residents should keep all vehicles secured, including cars, motorcycles and ATVs. Those who own weapons should take care to secure them, and residents are encouraged to lock their doors and windows.