Inmate walked off California prison camp, went missing 7 days, and is captured in Fresno

A 19-year-old inmate who walked off a minimum-security conservation camp in Nevada County last week was apprehended Saturday in Fresno, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Authorities took Malachi D. Thomas into custody in Fresno without incident around 10:45 a.m., the CDCR said in a news release. CDCR staff determined that Thomas walked away from Washington Ridge Conservation Camp around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 18.

Fresno is around 250 miles, or a roughly four-hour drive, from the camp in Nevada City.

Thomas was taken to North Kern State Prison in Delano on Saturday, and his case will be referred to the Nevada County District Attorney for consideration of escape charges, authorities said.

He was admitted to the CDCR from Fresno County in May and is serving seven years for assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, which is his second “strike” under California’s three strikes law, CDCR officials said.

People incarcerated at Washington Ridge Conservation Camp are trained to help Cal Fire fight fires and undertake mitigation projects such as fuel reduction and debris clearing.