Discarded jail jumpsuit sparks manhunt in Castaic

A discarded jail jumpsuit triggered a containment and search in Castaic Wednesday afternoon. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The search for an inmate suspected of having escaped from the Pitchess Detention Center — after a blue jail jumpsuit was found in Castaic — was called off 90 minutes into the search after all inmates had been accounted for.

At 3:30 p.m., investigators with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station received confirmation from two of three local jails that all inmates had been accounted for and were waiting on results of the third jail before calling off the search. About 4 p.m., they received confirmation: No inmate was missing from jails in the SCV.

Deputies began setting up a perimeter in a Castaic neighborhood Wednesday shortly after 2:30 p.m., after receiving reports of a possible escaped inmate from the Pitchess Detention Center.

The reports hinged on a citizen finding a discarded blue jail jumpsuit near Hasley Canyon Road.

“We’re trying to confirm if we have an escaped inmate or not,” Sgt. Eric Metten said early in the manhunt.

Deputies set up a perimeter on Creekbed Road, near Hasley Canyon Road.

An advisory issued by Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, reads: “If you see police activity in the Hasley Canyon area, a citizen reported finding clothing articles consistent with those issued to an inmate.

“It is unknown at this time if there is an escapee,” she said. “Counts are currently being conducted at the jail facilities in Castaic.”

“Until we have an account of all inmates, we encourage our residents in nearby areas to take standard safety precautions. Make sure your exterior doors are locked, windows shut. Call our station immediately to report any suspicious persons.”

Once the containment area was dismantled and the manhunt stopped, attention turned to learning more about the discarded jail coveralls.

“The investigation will continue as to how the clothing got there,” Miller wrote in a post late Wednesday afternoon. “It is unknown how long the items were there.”

An hour later, however, investigators solved the mystery of the abandoned jail jumpsuit.

“Preliminary investigation indicates the found clothing was related to an inmate escape in February 2019, in which the clothing was not previously recovered,” Miller wrote in an update posted on social media.

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