Murder suspect who escaped while fully shackled found stuck in muddy pit, taken into custody

ByCheri Mossburg and Paradise Afshar, CNN
Saturday, September 2, 2023
Murder suspect who escaped while fully shackled found stuck in mud pit
Christopher Lee Pray, the murder suspect who pulled off an Oregon State Hospital escape while fully shackled, was found stuck in a muddy pit.

SALEM, Ore. -- An aggravated murder suspect who escaped a psychiatric hospital in Oregon while shackled at the arms, legs and stomach was taken back into custody after an unusual rescue, authorities announced Friday.

Christopher Lee Pray, 39, was captured Friday, according to Oregon State Police. He had been in custody and a patient at the Oregon State Hospital in Salem before his escape on Wednesday.

Emergency crews responded to a call Friday morning about a possible dead body in a pond and instead found a man stuck in mud up to his armpits, about 75 feet from sturdy ground, a news release from the OSP said.

Portland Fire & Rescue launched a rope and ladder operation and freed the man after about an hour, authorities said. He was then taken to a local hospital to be evaluated.

SEE ALSO | 'Extremely dangerous' man convicted of murder escapes from Pennsylvania prison

"The patient provided a fake name, however an observant hospital employee noticed he resembled Christopher Pray," the release from police said. "Hospital staff notified the Portland Police Bureau, who responded and confirmed his identity."

The hospital in Portland is nearly an hour north from the facility Pray escaped from on Wednesday.

Pray's escape is still under investigation and the OSP plan to release more details next week.

Authorities said he managed to escape custody while fully restrained and fled the facility in a Dodge minivan.

Law enforcement was notified Pray escaped Wednesday night at 10:45 p.m. local time, according to a news release from OSP.

"At the time of his escape, he was fully restrained with leg shackles, a belly chain, handcuffs, and a restraint connecting all three together," police said. "He was wearing a white t-shirt, maroon sweatpants, and black rubber slippers."

Pray, who is considered to be extremely dangerous, was in custody at the Multnomah County jail on several serious charges, including attempted aggravated murder, and had been transferred to the hospital on Wednesday.

Pray is believed to have escaped after stealing a white 2016 Dodge Caravan and eluded capture after a police chase, authorities said. Police said he "eluded law enforcement southbound on Interstate 5. Law enforcement terminated the pursuit due to safety concerns and Pray was not apprehended."

(The-CNN-Wire & 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.)