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Escaped inmate still at large

A man that officials do not consider dangerous is still at large after fleeing a work release detail last Thursday.

Calvin Lee Kaestner, a 52-year-old Camano Island resident, was last seen near Rhododendron Park south of Coupeville where he and another inmate were aiding an Island County Parks crew in picking up litter.

Kaestner, who is 6-feet, 1-inch tall with greying hair and a thin mustache, was wearing a jail-issued orange jumpsuit when he took off. He had only five weeks left on his sentence for first-degree theft, Island County Jail Chief De Dennis said.

Island County Sheriff’s detectives have contacted his known associates, who all claim to have not heard from him, Dennis said.

“We expect him to surface,” he said. “He’s gonna get cold, wet, hungry and he’ll show up.”

Kaestner was originally charged with theft for running a bogus car lot, the now-defunct Cal’s Cars, on Goldie Road near Oak Harbor. According to Island County Superior Court documents, Kaestner missed at least four court hearings this year. He was charged with three separate counts of felony bail jumping.

Dennis said inmates that are placed in the work program are carefully screened for violent offenders and those with discipline problems.

Dennis said the history of bail jumping and failure to appear was not a red flag.

“Failure to appear is like not showing up for breakfast,” Dennis said. “We don’t let the bad guys out there.”

The work release program has been in Island County for four years and this is the first time an inmate has escaped. County Parks Superintendent Terri Arnold said that usually two inmates are released with a county crew.

As a result of the escape, only one inmate will be released with each crew, she said.

Sheriff’s deputies, State Patrol troopers and Coupeville Marshal’s deputies launched a search for Kaestner after his supervisor reported him missing to the jail Thursday afternoon. Kaestner got approximately a 40-minute jump on searchers.

Dennis said that the crew supervisor did the right thing in not giving chase. The supervisors are supposed to contain the other inmate, which is what he did, then call the jail.

If anybody sees Kaestner, Dennis said they should call 911.

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