Man Hides From Police for Almost Two Hours in California Corn Maze

A Bay Area man was able to evade arrest for almost two hours by hiding from police in a corn maze, according to reports.

Police found Kenneth Watt, 29, in a homeless encampment near Highway 101 in north Petaluma, California, on Saturday morning after being alerted the day before that he had violated a restraining order against talking to his girlfriend, local newspaper The Press Democrat reported.

As officers arrived at the encampment, Watt ran across the highway and into the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch corn maze. Scouring the corn maze for Watt was a challenge—taking up four acres and with corn rows 10 feet tall, even the corn maze's designer admitted that he sometimes gets lost in it, according to the attraction's web site.

Two teams of three officers started a systematic search of the maze around 9 a.m., before the maze was open to the public, The Press Democrat reported. Other officers set up a perimeter around the maze, and a California Highway Patrol helicopter was called in to look from overhead.

Corn Maze in Sterling, Massachusetts.
Visitors at a corn maze in Sterling, Massachusetts. John Nordell/Getty

Almost two hours after the search began and with the helicopter running out of fuel, police were nearly ready to abandon the search. "We worked our way methodically through it," Lieutenant Ed Crosby of the Petaluma Police Department told Mercury News. "We covered the whole maze. We couldn't find him. The aircraft didn't see any movement. We were getting ready to close it down."

"Then one of our guys noticed the chicken coop."

A chicken coop was located about 20 feet away from the edge of the maze. Police found Watt inside and speculated that he hid the in the maze first and at some point later ran into the chicken coop. He was arrested without incident on the spot and booked into Sonoma County Jail on Saturday afternoon on bail of $250,000.

Police told NBC that Watt had been investigated in recent weeks for allegedly coming to her son's school athletic practices uninvited, entering her home uninvited, hacking her social media accounts and texting her to tell her that he was monitoring her whereabouts. He was arrested three times in September, and in another unrelated arrest, officers discovered that he had a GPS tracker on his phone connected to a GPS tracking device on the underside of his girlfriend's car.

The search for Watt started on Friday, September 29 around 9 p.m. when he called his girlfriend, violating the terms of his restraining order, asking her to drop the restraining order.