Deputy jogs across stalker

The Island County Sheriff’s Office finally caught a 38-year-old accused stalker after a deputy was jogging Wednesday morning and spotted the man in Oak Harbor.

Richard Weatherford had been on the lam since early last December when investigators went public, asking for help in locating the man they brandished as “dangerous.”

Weatherford was wanted on three warrant out of the Island County Sheriff’s Office. The warrants, totalling $40,000, were for fourth-degree assault (domestic violence), second-degree assault and first-degree criminal trespassing warrant.

Det. Russ Lindner, the investigative chief for the sheriff’s office, said investigators had lost Weatherford’s trail until Deputy Mark Plumberg went jogging Wednesday. He saw a man he thought looked like Weatherford walking from a U-Haul pickup to an apartment on SE Eighth Street.

Based on Plumberg’s information, deputies set up surveillance on the truck Wednesday. Late that afternoon, they saw Weatherford leave the apartment and drive away in the pickup. They called the Oak Harbor police and a patrol officer pulled Weatherford over on Midway Boulevard.

“He’s a pretty brazen individual,” Lindner said. “Instead of blundering in and making a mistake, we decided to sit back and wait for him.”

Lindner said officers found a handgun and a suspected controlled substance in the truck. Weatherford allegedly had a fake ID in his wallet.

While the deputies watched the truck, investigators were working behind the scenes and found that Weatherford had rented the U-Haul in California, using an alias he had used before. Lindner said the U-Haul vehicle was long overdue and may be considered stolen.

Lindner said Weatherford had changed his appearance, but apparently not enough.

Also on Wednesday, the Oak Harbor police arrested a 19-year-old woman, who lives at the apartment Weatherford had stayed at, on a warrant out of Skagit County. The warrant was related to a charge of driving without a valid license.

Weatherford is accused of stalking his ex-wife, a Central Whidbey resident, over a six-month period last year. He allegedly entered her house without permission, followed her car and threatened to kill her.

Weatherford reportedly told a deputy that he’s tired of running. He’s being held on $100,000 bail.

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