Two fugitives captured in northern Franklin County

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Two fugitives captured in northern Franklin County


RANGELEY PLANTATION — Two fugitives, one a convicted sex offender who hadn’t reported to his probation officer since Sept. 12, were captured Thursday night after two sightings on Bemis Road.

Law enforcement agencies had been searching for the two in northern Franklin and Oxford counties since mid September. Shawn S. L. Batchelder, 36, of Warren, who was sentenced to 25 years with all but 10 years suspended for gross sexual assault in May 2012, followed by four years probation, and Steven M. Petersen, 29, of Augusta who had been charged on a gross sexual assault charge and awaiting trial, had been on the run for several weeks.

Warrants were issued for the arrest of both men. Batchelder was arrested on four warrants charging probation revocation, and Peterson was arrested on a warrant charging violation of bail. Both are being held at the Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington.

At 5:44 p.m. Thursday, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office took a report of two males walking on the Bemis Road in Rangeley Plantation that fit the description of Petersen and Batchelder, according to Franklin County Scott Nichols Sr.

A local man and woman were driving south on the Bemis road when Batchelder and Petersen flagged them down. They asked for help, the couple recognized them as the two as the fugitives, they drove off and called Franklin County Regional Communications Center to advise of the sighting.

Franklin County Deputies Austin Couture and Tyler Gray and Chief Deputy Steven Lowell alongside Rangeley police, members of the Border Patrol and the Maine Warden Service responded to the area of the sighting.

At 7:24 p.m., a separate homeowner who lives on the Bemis Road, called dispatch to advise that the two males were inside their garage and that Bachelder and Petersen were trying to make a phone call to someone in Portland, Nichols wrote in an news release. All agencies responded to the residence and found Bachelder and Peterson in the garage. They were arrested without incident.

They were initially evaluated by NorthStar EMS ambulance personnel at the scene before being transported to the Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington for a more detailed medical evaluation. Both were dirty and in need of food.

Once medically cleared, both males were transported to the Franklin County jail without incident.

The Sheriff’s Office with the help of the State Police, Border Patrol, Warden Service and an investigator from the state Department of Corrections have been conducting organized searches in and around the Rangeley Plantation area and Letter D Township since Sept. 18. There had been many false sightings, the last large search was conducted Sept. 25 checking camps along various ponds in the Letter D Township area, Nichols said.

Once those leads were exhausted, the Sheriff’s Office maintained increased patrol in the area to follow up upon any leads.

“We were quite surprised to find that they had actually been living in the woods the entire time,” he said. “We are happy that this matter has come to a peaceful conclusion, and that local residents can rest easy knowing that these two are no longer in the area.”

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