Task force helps track down escaped convict
by Jonathan Partridge | Patterson Irrigator
Sep 11, 2012 | 3152 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joshua Best, 24, is arrested on Orange Avenue near Elm Avenue on Tuesday evening, Sept. 11, after the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Taskforce and assisting agencies tracked him down in a cornfield with K9 units.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/ Patterson Irrigator
Joshua Best, 24, is arrested on Orange Avenue near Elm Avenue on Tuesday evening, Sept. 11, after the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Taskforce and assisting agencies tracked him down in a cornfield with K9 units.--Photo by Jonathan Partridge/ Patterson Irrigator
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An inmate who escaped in August from the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center was captured late Tuesday, Sept. 11, following an hour-long search in a cornfield east of Patterson, according to authorities.

Joshua Best, 24, originally from Keyes, was found hiding in the field off the 1800 block of Orange Avenue near Elm Avenue by dog teams that tracked him there after he refused to surrender to his pursuers, according to Sgt. Buster Crabb of the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force, which led the arrest effort.

Medics treated the suspect at the scene for severe dog bite wounds before he was taken away in a police car at about 9:30 p.m., Crabb stated.

He was booked into Stanislaus County Jail on various charges, including evading law enforcement in a vehicle, escaping from jail via force or violence, resisting arrest, possession of stolen property and vehicle theft.

Crabb noted that a green Acura that Best had parked near the scene of the Patterson search appeared to be stolen, though he did not have further details.

Crabb said police used various leads to track Best to the field, though he would not go into specifics.

StanCATT is an auto theft investigative unit consisting of undercover detectives from the California Highway Patrol, Modesto and Ceres police departments and Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

A sheriff’s helicopter, multiple dog teams and sheriff’s deputies assisted numerous undercover detectives in the cornfield search Tuesday.

StanCATT had previously assisted the sheriff’s department in a pursuit of Best on Sunday, Sept. 9. The chase started in the rural Turlock area near Main Street west of Highway 99.

Best, who was driving his girlfriend’s car at the time, abandoned the vehicle west of the Faith Home Road overcrossing at Highway 99 near Ceres, found a gap in a nearby cyclone fence and escaped on foot, Crabb said.

He escaped through a ceiling vent at the public safety center about a month ago, Crabb said. Best apparently climbed out of the jail using a rope made out of bed sheets, he said.

Sgt. Anthony Bejaran, spokesman for the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, said Wednesday he was handling a warrant and was not able to provide information regarding the case.

Sgt. John Campbell, who oversees jail operations for the sheriff’s department, referred all calls regarding the matter to Bejaran.

The Modesto Bee reported that Best and fellow public safety center inmate James Leigh, 27, escaped sometime between 11 p.m. Aug. 14 and 3 a.m. Aug. 15.

Leigh was arrested late Tuesday following a pursuit by Stanislaus County Sheriff’s in the Riverbank area, Crabb said, though he did not have further details.

Best pleaded guilty earlier this year to taking a vehicle in March without the owner’s consent and resisting arrest, according to court records.

He was sentenced May 31 in accordance with Assembly Bill 109 guidelines, which

allow people to serve time in county jail rather than in state prison for nonviolent and nonsexual crimes that are not deemed serious.

Leigh, who pleaded no contest in June to possession of a controlled substance, was booked into jail Tuesday on suspicion of jail escape, vehicle theft and possession of a controlled substance. Like Best, he had been sentenced in accordance with AB109 guidelines.

• Contact Jonathan Partridge at 892-6187, ext. 26, or jonathan@pattersonirrigator.com.

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