ST. PETER, Minn. – A tip prompted by a segment on a national television program led to the arrest Tuesday of a sex offender who escaped from a state facility with three other men who sawed their way to freedom, authorities said.
Michael Dale Benson, classified a Level 3 offender for those deemed most likely to re-offend, was caught without incident in Kansas City, Mo., after a tip from someone who had seen a description of him on "America's Most Wanted," authorities said.
"This tip was absolutely crucial for catching him when we did," said Michael Tabman, special agent in charge of the Minneapolis FBI office.
Authorities said Benson, 42, and three others escaped from the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center on April 15 after sawing through a metal bar on a security window. The three other men were quickly arrested.
Benson pleaded guilty in 1989 to first-degree criminal sexual conduct in a rape in Douglas County. He served prison time before being civilly committed to the sex offender program in St. Peter in 1993.
His escape prompted calls from legislators and Gov. Tim Pawlenty to improve security at the St. Peter facility.
Benson's father, Dale Luverne Blue, 59, was arrested and charged with smuggling cutting tools into the treatment center and placing cash in an account for his son. A criminal complaint alleged that Blue had been helping plan the escape for several months.