HILLSBORO, Ore. — Law enforcement in Hillsboro captured a murder suspect Monday afternoon, about two hours after he escaped from the Washington County Courthouse as jury selection for his trial was getting underway. The suspect, Edi Villalobos, was found hiding inside a bedroom closet of an unoccupied apartment about four blocks southeast of the courthouse.
Washington County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) Sergeant Daniel DiPietro said Villalobos, 28, had returned to the courtroom after using the bathroom at around 11:14 a.m. Monday. The two deputies assigned to Villalobos removed the restraints from his legs, a requirement under Oregon law during any trial proceedings, DiPietro said.
As soon as the restraints were removed, Villalobos took off running. Because the courtroom was on the first floor, he was able to get outside the front door quickly before security could stop him, DiPietro said.
The sheriff's office and Hillsboro police immediately began a search and set up a perimeter. They asked TriMet to suspend pickup services in the area so Villalobos couldn't hop on a bus and escape. Twice, law enforcement spotted him and engaged in a short foot pursuit but each time Villalobos was able to escape, DiPietro said.
About two hours after Villalobos' escape, police received a tip from a resident of an apartment complex who said a stranger was trying to pull open a sliding backdoor to an apartment below. Deputies contacted the person who lives in the apartment. "He said, 'nobody should be in my apartment, please go in there and check it out,'" DiPietro said.
Deputies entered through the sliding backdoor and found the suspect hiding in a closet in a back bedroom. DiPietro said it may have been a child's room. Villalobos was taken into custody without incident at around 1:30 p.m.
DiPietro said the front door was dead-bolted and there was no sign of forced entry other than the backdoor. He said it appeared that Villalobos "broke the backdoor open."
Suzanne Siller, who lives in the apartment complex where the suspect was captured, said it was a frightening experience.
"I didn't know what was going on until I saw someone in the backyard," she said. "That was so close right there. I kept hearing the door opening and closing, opening and closing. Thank God they caught him. Oh my God, That's scary. That is scary."
DiPietro said Villalobos' trial has been suspended and will be rescheduled for a later date. Villalobos faces additional charges of second-degree escape and a burglary charge for breaking into the apartment where he was hiding. Original charges from Villalobos' trial included second-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of first-degree burglary, felony and misdemeanor elude, reckless driving and reckless endangering.
When Villalobos' trial resumes, DiPietro said he believes they'll push for restraints to stay on during the trial, but he said that's for the courts, the district attorney's office and court security to determine. He said that the deputies assigned to Villalobos on Monday didn't have a choice — under Oregon law, they were required to remove the restraints.
"Unfortunately, when it comes to removing the restraints, that's what Oregon law requires us to do," DiPietro said. "Leaving those on, there is a process to get that to happen, but it's a hearing that would have to take place. ... Maybe that's something we can reassess down the road, for individuals who have eluded in the past."
DiPietro said there's no evidence at this time that Villalobos was helped by anyone else during his escape.
In 2021, KGW wrote about Villalobos' arrest after police suspected him of stabbing two people, killing one of them.
A person called 911 on April 10, 2021 to say that 33-year-old Artemio Guzman-Olvera had been stabbed by a family member in Cornelius. Guzman-Olvera later died at the hospital. Police said Villalobos drove away from the scene.
A couple hours later, another person called 911 to say a 26-year-old man had been stabbed at an apartment complex in Wilsonville about 30 miles away. The caller said the suspect had driven away.
An officer in Tualatin later spotted Villalobos' car, prompting a car chase ending with Villalobos under arrest.
Stream newscasts for free on KGW+ on Roku and Amazon Fire: How to add app to your device here
See a typo in this article? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for corrections