Crime, South Fork Forest Camp, Tillamook State Forest

South Fork Forest Camp inmate escapes custody near Gales Creek Campground

South Fork Forest Camp entrance in November 2017. Photo: Chas Hundley

4/15 5:50 a.m. update: Lunn is back in custody, according to the DOC.

A South Fork Forest Camp inmate walked away from a work crew near the Gales Creek Campground Wednesday around 2:30 p.m., the Oregon Department of Corrections said in a press release. 

According to the corrections agency, Jedaiah Lunn, 35, became incarcerated by the DOC in August 24, 2020 on one count of robbery in the second degree in Multnomah County and was scheduled for release at the earliest on October 15, 2023.

In the same time frame as Lunn’s disappearance, a carjacking occurred in the area. Two people were assaulted, and their blue 2015 Subaru Legacy four-door sedan was stolen. 

The Subaru’s license plate number was 799HSW.

Lunn is a white male, 6 feet 4 inches tall, and weighs 260 pounds. He has blue eyes and brown hair, and was last seen wearing blue jeans — word “inmate” stenciled on the knee in orange — and a blue T-shirt, sweatshirt and a coat also stenciled with “inmate.”

Jedaiah Lunn. Photo courtesy DOC

The Oregon Department of Corrections Fugitive Apprehension Unit and the Oregon State Police ask that anyone with information regarding Lunn’s whereabouts call the Oregon State Police at 1-800-452-7888 or the Oregon Department of Corrections Apprehension Unit at 503-569-0734.

If Lunn or the Subaru mentioned above are spotted, those agencies ask that 911 be called, and that neither Lunn or the vehicle be approached. 

According to the Oregon Department of Corrections, South Fork Forest Camp, established in 1951 as a joint venture between the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Department of Corrections, houses up to 204 incarcerated adults and has a staff of 24. Those who reside there must apply for the program, which sees inmates perform a variety of tasks, usually related to forestry. The facility is located 28 miles east of Tillamook near Highway 6 in the Tillamook Forest.

Crews from South Fork are often sent to assist at wildfires in the Tillamook State Forest and elsewhere in Oregon, and supply labor in replanting efforts, sign building (the sign at the entrance to the Forest Grove Oregon Department of Forestry offices was built by South Fork crews), metal fabrication and tool and equipment repair. The facility is largely self-sustaining in many ways, with a gas station, religious facilities, a small fish hatchery, and auto repair shop. 

Crews also work on campgrounds, trails and trailheads and day use areas throughout the NW Oregon area. 

At least 124 inmates from the South Fork Forest Camp were deployed to fight at least six wildfires during the September 2020 wildfires, according to a spokesperson for the DOC. 

Dunn’s apparent escape is not the only recent South Fork Forest Camp inmate to walk away while on a work crew; on June 22, 2020, Brandon Sykes walked away from a work detail near the summit of the Coast Range, and eluded capture until he turned himself in more than one month later on July 30, 2020. 

Inmates must meet a series of requirements to be eligible to be incarcerated at the 28-acre South Fork Forest Camp, including not having any arson crimes or arrests, sex offenses, animal abuse crimes, violent “person to person crimes where there may be victim issues,” (defined in a June 23 2020 email to this newspaper as “an immediate threat to a victim of someone’s crime,” according to Betty Bernt, a spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Corrections, and must have no escape history, among other requirements.

“An individual’s entire criminal history is reviewed and assessed for risk. Decisions are made depending on severity and circumstance,” said Bernt in an email to the Banks Post & Gales Creek Journal.

According to the Bernt, the agency follows the Oregon Administrative Rule on assessment, assignment, and supervision of inmates for work assignments and unfenced minimum housing

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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