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Escaped ‘Off The Grid’ Missouri Convict Found Holed Up In Makeshift Shelter In Delaware Woods

Drake Kately, who was facing assault and firearm charges, escaped a Missouri jail in August by smashing a mirror in his cell and using broken glass to slice through a steel grate.

By Dorian Geiger

A Missouri inmate who allegedly busted out of jail in August was recaptured more than a thousand miles away in Delaware where he had been living “off the grid” in a makeshift shelter in the woods.

Drake Kately, who had eluded authorities for months, turned up in a homemade outdoor shelter “fashioned from foliage around a fallen tree,” on Tuesday, November 19, officials said.

The U.S. Marshal Service had focused their search for Kately on New Castle, Delaware by mid-October after learning that the 27-year-old had traveled there with an acquaintance who had family in the area. Officials suspected the escaped inmate was living underground and “off the grid.”

After searching a wooded clearing, which police described as a “homeless encampment area,” investigators spotted trash and clothing hanging from a tree branch. They then discovered Kately “hiding in a makeshift shelter,” according to the U.S. Marshals Service. 

Drake Kately Ap

“They got a little closer and discovered what appeared to be a well-camouflaged, makeshift shelter, and as they got even closer, they then discovered him,” Micheal Stokes, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshal Service, told Oxygen.com

Stokes, who compared the shelter’s structural integrity to a hunting blind, explained that Kately had constructed his makeshift hideout out of “sticks," "grass, and leaves.” Inside the handcrafted hut was more garbage and “used clothing,” he said. 

“It wasn’t very elaborate inside,” Stokes added. 

It’s unclear how long Kately had been tucked away in the shelter, or when exactly he arrived in the wooded area, but local police speculated he had been there for at least a “couple months.”

Stokes, however, said it was unlikely that Kately would’ve survived the winter hunkered down there. 

“It worked for a little while, but I doubt he would have survived the winter in that shelter,” he said. “When fugitives go on the run, they’re kind of just thinking about the day ahead, not necessarily the long run.”

Mercer County, where Kately was being previously held, is about 1,100 miles — or roughly an 18-hour drive — from New Castle. Authorities suspect that Katley may have rode the bus through several states before arriving on the east coast. 

The U.S. Marshal Service spokesperson explained that it was rare for a fugitive to travel such distances without being detected.

“It was unusual that he made it that far away,” Stokes said. “In my experience, when somebody like this gentleman escapes from a local jail, most of the time, they don’t make it far.” 

He stated that most times, escaped inmates are discovered in the same or neighboring counties.

“It kind of depends on the resiliency of the person that’s escaping, too,” he described. “Folks that are not really adapted to living and foraging off the land — those folks tend to not make it very long. This guy was a little bit better at that and had some skills and was able to make it a further distance away, and secondly, be able to live off the land somewhat.” 

Kately, who who reportedly trashed his cell in the process of his escape, has been charged with escape from custody and damage to jail property. 

The former fugitive allegedly escaped from Mercer County jail on Aug. 28 by using fragments of glass from a broken mirror in his cell to slice through a steel grate behind his bathroom sink.

Kately had been wanted on firearm possession, resisting arrest, and assault charges stemming from an incident in July, as well as a parole violation on past burglary charges. 

The 27-year-old, who was charged with assault in July, is accused of hitting an unidentified man, “across the face with a piece of steel,” according to the criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.

He was also convicted of burglarizing an abandoned house in Grundy County in 2014, and was also later found guilty of receiving stolen property in Mercer County in 2016, separate court documents stated. 

A Delaware judge has since ordered Kately’s extradition back to Missouri. He’s being held without bond. No court dates have been scheduled yet.

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