'Hansel and Gretel': Trail of drug paraphernalia points San Miguel County sheriff toward fugitive

Bruce Seagraves

San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters, with the Norwood marshal and a deputy, scrambled through rugged terrain Sunday, tracking a vehicle theft suspect, in part by following a “Hansel and Gretel” trail of drug paraphernalia.

According to information from the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, at about 10 a.m. Sunday, the Colorado State Patrol alerted the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office that a trooper had pursued a truck for speeding on Colorado 145, but had to drop back because of safety concerns posed by the driver’s reckless operation of the truck and speeds approaching 100 mph.

The driver, later alleged to be Bruce Seagraves, 47, of Denver, was seen headed toward the Placerville area.

According to information from the SMCSO: San Miguel County deputies soon found the vehicle, which had been reported stolen last month in Wheatridge, abandoned behind a pile of dirt. Inside, someone had written on the headliner: “We don’t stop for the police.”

Deputies spotted footprints going into the woods and followed the tracks, with help from a Montrose County Sheriff’s Office deputy and K-9, as well as the CSP trooper who had first attempted to pull over the vehicle.

They lost the trail of Seagraves and his female companion and also learned Seagraves might have had a handgun that he threw over a cliff.

More officers arrived from multiple agencies, including the Norwood Marshal’s Office, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Bureau of Land Management. The officers located tracks higher up in the steep terrain, which went straight uphill along the power line, according to the SMCSO’s information.

Masters, with Norwood Marshal Mike Wilkerson and SMCSO Deputy Michael Donnellon, followed the tracks through the challenging terrain.

“It was hard. We were way up high on the canyon walls,” Masters said Monday. He said he believes Seagraves was using methamphetamine, which gave him the energy to book it high up the cliff walls. Although Seagraves later denied using drugs, Masters said he and the others could see tourniquets and needle caps strewn about in Seagraves’ wake. “For us, it was kind of like Hansel and Gretel,” Masters said.

Tracking went on for a few hours and included use of the K-9 and a drone, but Masters said Seagraves and the woman with him hid from the drone.

“We did it the old-fashioned way, with the three of us following the tracks up higher and higher. They were trying to be careful by not stepping in the snow. The closer we got, the sloppier they got,” Masters said.

“I think they were high on meth and that gave them the motivation to keep going.”

Seagraves and the woman were apprehended following a short foot chase at about 3 p.m.

Seagraves was held on outstanding warrants and is also accused of vehicular eluding and first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft.

His companion was released.

Masters in a Sunday statement thanked all citizens who called in and reported seeing Seagraves and the woman, as well as the other agencies that assisted.

“I really appreciate Marshal Mike Wilkerson and Deputy Donnellon. They stayed with it,” Masters said Monday.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the Montrose Daily Press assistant editor and senior writer. Follow her on Twitter, @kathMDP.

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