California man arrested after leading police on 2-hour chase through corn maze

A California man was caught and arrested by police Saturday morning, but not before he managed to elude them for two hours while hiding inside a corn maze.

Authorities launched a search for Ryan Kenneth Watt on Friday, under suspicion of stalking a woman and breaking the conditions of his restraining order, the Press Democrat reported. The 29-year-old encountered officers the following morning, and seemingly didn't want to go down without a fight. 

Officers found Watt, who is homeless, at an encampment in Petaluma, Calif. He managed to elude police once, and when they returned he fled again, this time running across the highway and into the Petaluma Pumpkin Patch.

"He runs from our officers across the freeway," Lieutenant Ed Crosby told the Press Democrat. "How he didn’t get hit, I don’t know."

The pumpkin patch is home to a 4-acre corn maze, which is where Watt took refuge. Authorities set up a perimeter around the maze and began searching, sending in small, three-person groups to comb through the labyrinth. 

Authorities borrowed maps of the maze, which usually takes about 45 minutes to complete, to help navigate the corn stalks. 

"I've been to that maze myself, off duty with kids," Crosby told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. "It's a great place to hide. It's very narrow. It takes a long time to get through it."

Officers even called in a helicopter to help out, but after two hours the search had proved unsuccessful. 

"We had searched the corn maze itself pretty thoroughly and hadn’t found him," Crosby told the Press Democrat. "At some point, you have to call it."

But just as police were ready to move on, an officer leaving the maze noticed a nearby chicken coop and decided to search. Inside, they found their suspect. 

Watt was arrested and jailed on the stalking charges, along with a charge of resisting arrest. He's currently being held on a $250,000 bail. 

Authorities said the 29-year-old, who had previously been accused of stalking by his ex-girlfriend, was harassing with phone calls and text messages. The woman said Watt was attempting to convince her to drop the stalking charges she'd already filed against him. 

Police have said they have logged at least five instances in which Watt has harassed his ex-girlfriend, including showing up to her home uninvited, hacking her social media accounts and using a GPS to track her whereabouts.