Top Ten #8: Manhunt in Milburn
MILBURN—After two fugitives from Wyoming fired on local law enforcement in October, it kicked off an inter-agency manhunt lasting 48 hours before the couple was apprehended.
Brett Gilman Johnson, 51, and Jamie Carol Cleghorn Wheeler, 41, (also known as Jamie Carol Cleghorn, as well as other aliases) were captured at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8 in the Milburn area.
The pair were wanted in Gillette, Wyo. for robbing 17 storage centers. When law enforcement in Sanpete learned their whereabouts, two Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office deputies and a Fairview police officer visited the residence in question to serve warrants.
Upon arrival at the location at approximately 8:45 a.m., the deputies and Fairview officer were fired on once, from what authorities would later discover to be a 9mm handgun.
According to SCSO Detective Derick Taysom, after being fired on, the deputies and officer did not return fire, and fell back to regroup, during which time Johnson and Wheeler were seen by witnesses fleeing the residence into the thickly-wooded hills to Milburn’s east.
Residents of the area were warned by law enforcement that the suspects were armed and dangerous.
Many other Utah law enforcement agencies arrived on the scene to assist in the search, including the Department of Public Safety, Utah County Sheriff’s Office and SWAT team, Snow College Police, Ephraim Police, Fairview Police, Utah Highway Patrol and the Utah Department of Corrections.
“In a situation like this, if you have the time, it is always better and safer to bring in more people trained in apprehending people like this, in these environments,” Taysom said.
Throughout the day, authorities combed the large woods and hills for the suspects. Several aircraft searched from above. As the day wore on, the containment area was expanded.
The area and environment of the search created a very real challenge in apprehending the suspects, said Taysom.
“The terrain made it very difficult, with so much thick brush, steep inclines and such a big total area to search,” Taysom said.
During the time of the search, a number of tips and leads came in from residents in the area, such as the discovery footprints on someone’s property where they should not have been. These tips, combined with some traditional tracking methods, ultimately led them to the suspects on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 8.
The pair were taken without incident and booked into Sanpete County Jail on first-degree felony charges of attempted aggravated murder and other second and third-degree felony charges, including possession of firearm, obstruction of justice, discharge of a firearm, criminal trespass and more.
“We would like to thank all of the law enforcement agencies involved in the search,” said
the Sanpete County Sheriff ’s Office (SCSO) in an announcement after apprehending the suspects. “We would also like to thank the public for their diligence in being alert and providing leads, which were crucial in locating the fugitives.”
Both Johnson and Wheeler have been in custody at the jail while waiting for their preliminary hearings. Johnson is scheduled in court on Jan. 15 and Wheeler is scheduled on Jan. 20.