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Crime & Courts

Escapee from Mat-Su work farm spotted burglarizing cabin, troopers say

PALMER -- A 59-year-old Mat-Su inmate with a history of cabin burglaries and custody walk-aways escaped from a work farm on Point MacKenzie this month and was spotted breaking into a cabin in the Big Lake area, Alaska State Troopers say.

Brian Church escaped the Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm on April 11 and was later spotted breaking into a cabin on Flat Lake, Alaska State Troopers say.

Brian E. Church remains at large after leaving on foot, troopers said in a dispatch Tuesday evening. A Special Emergency Reaction Team looked for him but stopped searching by Wednesday morning.

Church was involved in break-ins in the Willow and Skwentna areas in 2003 and 2012, according to prior reports. He was convicted of escape seven years ago after walking away from an Anchorage halfway house.

Church walked away from the minimum-security Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm in jeans and a shirt between 10 p.m. April 11 and 2 a.m. April 12, troopers said. He is described as 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds with brown, partially gray hair and brown eyes.

An inmate moves a pallet of potatoes at the Point Mackenzie Correctional Farm on April 1, 2016. (ADN file)

Troopers said they got a report of someone breaking into a cabin on Flat Lake at 10 p.m. Monday. The man snapped a photo of the suspected burglar, and troopers determined it was Church, they said. The SERT team got to the cabin around 9 a.m. Tuesday. Church wasn’t there but had apparently headed south on foot.

“If anyone has any information regarding Church’s possible whereabouts, we encourage them to contact AST immediately,” troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said in an email.

Anyone with information about Church should call 911 but not approach him as he may be dangerous, troopers said.

Church was suspected in a string of cabin break-ins along the Yentna River in Skwentna in 2012 as well as in Willow and Big Lake in 2003, according to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. The perpetrator left behind hand-rolled cigarettes or cigar butts.

He was convicted of first-degree burglary, a felony, in 2003 and 2012. He was convicted of an earlier escape charge in 2012, according to a database of state court records.

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