Violent Fugitive Who Walked Away From Utah Treatment Center Taken Into Custody

Thomas Burnham, the fugitive who allegedly rammed a police car with a stolen vehicle after walking away from a halfway house has been arrested. Photo Courtesy: Department of Corrections

AMERICAN FORK, Utah, Feb. 15, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Police in American Fork have arrested a fugitive who walked away from a halfway house in late January and on Wednesday rammed a police car with a stolen vehicle.

Thomas Samuel Burnham, 29, was arrested by American Fork Police and is currently in the process of being returned to the Utah State Prison.

According to a news release issued by Utah Department of Corrections spokesperson Brooke Adams, at about 4 a.m. Monday, an American Fork police officer spotted a vehicle parked near utility trailers in the parking lot of a chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The vehicle was running, with its lights on.

The officer investigated and found Burnham as he emerged from behind the trailers and attempt to get into the vehicle. Burnham gave up after not being able to run from the officer.

Burnham later admitted to the officer he took camping equipment from the utility trailers.

He has been booked on new charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft, possession of burglary tools, and failure to stop at the command of a police officer.

Unified Police Department spokesman Lt. Lex Bell said Burnham walked away from Fortitude Treatment Center, at 1747 S. 900 West, at approximately 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 to get medical treatment at University Medical Center, but he failed to show up.

Burnham was pulled over in a traffic stop by Unified Police later that night in Midvale, but rammed the officer’s car and drove off. A felony warrant was issued for his arrest on Jan. 29.

Burnham was the second violent offender to walk away from the Fortitude Treatment Center in a month. Corey Henderson, who walked away sometime after arriving at the center on Dec. 7, 2015, shot and killed Unified Police officer Doug Barney on Jan. 17 as he responded to a traffic accident.

Henderson also wounded Unified officer Jon Richey before being fatally shot by responding officers. The Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake, in partnership with the Salt Lake City Police Department, the Department of Corrections, the Salt Lake Area Gang Project and the Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team established a task force on Feb. 3 in response to the ongoing issues with parole fugitives and walkaways committing violent crimes in Salt Lake County.

UPD said in a news release the objective of this task force will be the immediate re-allocation of specialized resources to apprehend offenders currently wanted for parole violation. Immediate changes are being made in the sharing of intelligence, the notification process regarding new fugitives and walkaways, and the coordination of efforts to quickly begin tracking down the high-profile offenders as soon as they abscond.

The Department of Corrections added in a news release it is engaged in immediate action to review all of its community correctional centers. That includes partnering with law enforcement agencies throughout the Salt Lake Valley in an enhanced, cooperative effort to specifically pursue and apprehend walkaways and fugitives from supervision.

That effort began the weekend of Feb. 6 and 7, when the department conducted two separate operations that resulted in 21 offenders being returned to custody.

With help from multiple law enforcement agencies, the department also conducted a full-scale search of the Fortitude Treatment Center in response to ongoing problems with contraband and noncompliance at the facility.

More than 100 adult probation and parole agents, UDC correctional officers and officers from local law enforcement agencies participated in that search. Seven search dogs also assisted in the operation, which began at approximately 2 a.m. and concluded around 4:30 a.m.

Seventeen dorms housing 135 offenders were searched; each offender also was required to take a drug test.

Nine offenders were taken into custody and returned to the Utah State Prison early Saturday, Feb. 6. Three were arrested for inciting/noncompliance; four for drug possession; and two on parole violations.


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