Man arrested in Washington after walking away from prison work crew at Salem park

A man in custody who walked away from a state Department of Corrections work crew at a southeast Salem Park on Feb. 21 was arrested Tuesday north of Seattle. 

The Stillaguamish Tribe Police Department arrested Nathan Joyce, 37, in Arlington eight days after he left the prison work crew at Cascade Gateway Park, according to Sgt. Chuck Litz of the department.

Washington state court records show a Snohomish County Superior Court judge waived Joyce’s extradition on Tuesday, meaning he could be sent back to Oregon as a fugitive.

Joyce was last seen walking away from the park shortly after 11 a.m. on Feb. 21, the state prison agency said at the time.

Litz told Salem Reporter he didn’t know how Joyce made it to Arlington. The city is about 270 miles north of Cascade Gateway Park. 

“He got quite a ways, really,” the sergeant said.

Litz said that Joyce was “panhandling” in an Arlington convenience store on Tuesday.

“I told him, ‘Hey, you gotta take off. Do not come back. If you come back, you’ll be arrested for trespass,’” the sergeant recounted. “Then about a half hour later, he’s back here panhandling again.”

Litz said when police arrested Joyce, he provided multiple fake names and dates of birth. 

“I told him, ‘You are going to jail, so you might as well give me your right name,’” Litz said.

When he provided his true name, dispatchers relayed to Litz that Joyce had an escape warrant out of Oregon. 

Joyce was booked as a fugitive into the Snohomish County Jail, but he was no longer listed in custody as of Thursday afternoon. 

Joyce entered the prison system May 3, 2022. His earliest release date was March 2, 2024, at the time he left the work crew.

A jury in Lane County convicted Joyce on April 29, 2022, of third-degree robbery and giving false information to a police officer. He is appealing those convictions, arguing in a court filing that the court erred by failing to ask if his request to represent himself was “knowing and voluntary,” failing to provide any remedy when police destroyed a flash drive with video evidence, and modifying his sentence outside his presence, according to court documents. 

He also pleaded no contest on July 6, 2022, to assaulting a public safety officer in Jackson County Circuit Court.

Joyce was assigned to the Santiam Correctional Institution, a minimum-security prison in Salem that houses around 440 within four years of being released. He was working on an Oregon Department of Transportation work crew, according to the prison agency’s original release.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.