PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Authorities took a murder suspect into custody after they say he fled from the Washington County Courthouse just before noon on Monday.
KOIN 6 News was on the scene when deputies appeared to locate the suspect, 28-year-old Edi Villalobos, around 1:30 p.m. at an apartment complex. A short time later, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the man had been taken into custody without incident.
Officials say that before escaping, Villalobos was at the courthouse for the jury selection process in his trial. He is accused of second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon along with several other charges.
KOIN learned the jury was out of the room on a break and the suspect was taken to the bathroom just before he fled.
Per Oregon law, all of the suspect’s restraints, such as handcuffs and leg shackles, were removed while in the courtroom for the trial. WCSO’s Danny DiPietro says those restraints were placed back on him during his bathroom break but were once again taken off afterward — that’s when he bolted out from the first-floor courtroom and out the front door.
Deputies were able to see the direction in which the suspect allegedly took off running and a search ensued, complete with assistance from drones, K-9 units and the Hillsboro Police Department. Meanwhile, nearby residents were asked to shelter in place.
“The response was very large from Hillsboro police and the sheriff’s office,” DiPietro said.
After getting tipped off by a neighbor, officials say they found Villalobos hiding under a blanket in an empty apartment he had forced his way into near Southeast 4th Avenue. He will now face new charges stemming from the escape, DiPietro said.
When asked if this was a failure on the authorities’ end, DiPietro said no — but it means they should “reassess things.”
“What took place here and evaluation [of the] the actual circumstances in this incident — it could change things,” he said. “We’re always looking to do better, we can look back at this.”
DiPietro said that when someone escapes custody, their number one priority is getting them back.
“Obviously, yes, with the second-degree murder charge, it brings a little more apprehension to the community,” he acknowledged. “We are happy to be able to bring him back into custody.”
Villalobos was set to stand trial for allegedly stabbing two people and killing one of them in April 2021, according to WCSO. The trial will be rescheduled following Monday’s events.
Watch the full statement provided by the WCSO below:
Stay with KOIN 6 as this story develops.