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Fri, Oct. 18

Sex offender found living in Prescott wilderness arrested

Yavapai County Sheriff's detectives arrested Monte Dean Johnston, 53, Friday on charges of failure to register as a sex offender after they learned he had been in the Copper Basin area outside of Prescott since late last year.

On Wednesday, a detective from the Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office in Washington contacted YCSO's sex offender unit with information that Johnston, a convicted sex offender who had a warrant for escaping community custody, was staying in the Copper Basin area and had failed to register in Arizona as required, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the YCSO.

Johnston had been previously convicted on charges of child molestation involving a pre-teen victim, according to investigators.

In December 2008, Johnston's records showed he was registered as homeless in Walla Walla County, with the understanding that any out-of-state move would require registration in the new state. In 2009, Johnston's paper trail showed him residing in Washington, then Oregon, investigators say.

Since then, Johnston made no effort to contact law enforcement and register as required, D'Evelyn said.

During the investigation, YCSO detectives found people familiar with a man named "Bo" living in the Prescott wilderness area, who was actually Johnston, D'Evelyn said.

After a two-day search in the White Spar and Copper Basin camping areas, YCSO detectives and deputies found Johnston on Friday afternoon at a campground off Forest Service Road 56 near Copper Basin at which he was staying with his wife, according to the sheriff's office.

Johnston told detectives he planned on completing sex offender registration the next day, but people who knew Johnston told detectives he had been in the Prescott area since late last year, putting him in clear violation of sex offender registration requirements.

Johnston remains in custody in the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde on a $50,000 bond.

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