Manhunt for convicted sex offender ends with arrest in Enumclaw

Upon his release, Ronald Clayton cut off his GPS tracker and obtained enough meth for a felony charge.

Ronald Clayton. Photo courtesy Pierce County Sheriff Department

Ronald Clayton. Photo courtesy Pierce County Sheriff Department

Ronald Clayton has been identified in many ways: a convicted rapist, a Level III sex offender, a prison inmate who immediately violated the terms of his release and a man on the run. He’s also the man captured the morning of Oct. 10 in Enumclaw.

The arrest, which came without incident following a frantic search by law enforcement, is just the latest chapter is a story that began when Clayton, now 41, was a teenager.

His sordid resumé dates back to 1995 when Clayton was convicted of both assault and rape. Those charges stem from an incident where he forced his way into a stranger’s home – at gunpoint – tied up the female resident and raped her. Adding to the criminal offense, he choked his Pierce County victim with a cord before she was able to escape.

Found guilty, Clayton received a lengthy sentence and was released in September 2011.

Clearly unable to stay out of trouble, Clayton was twice convicted of failing to follow the requirement that he register as a sex offender; he also picked up a conviction along the way for possession of a controlled substance.

His failure to register as a Level III offender landed Clayton behind bars again, receiving a 24-month sentence in 2017.

The most recent turn in his criminal saga came Saturday, Oct. 5, when he was released from prison. Clayton told authorities he would be staying at the Tacoma Rescue Mission but that plan never materialized. In the span of 48 hours he had cut off a GPS tracking device and vanished. Law enforcement went public with the news, warning that Clayton was on the loose.

His time on the run was short-lived.

Beatrice Pharr, a deputy U.S. Marshal, confirmed that Clayton was arrested the morning of Oct. 10 as he stepped out of an Enumclaw motel room. She was unwilling to state how authorities tracked Clayton to Enumclaw, but reported that he had moved “from motel to motel” during his few days on the run, spending at least one of those nights in Fife.

Pharr said the capture involved the U.S. Marshal Service (specifically its Western Washington Violent Offender Task Force, which operates out of Tacoma), along with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, the state Department of Corrections and the Enumclaw Police Department.

When captured, Clayton was in possession of methamphetamine and had been joined by another person. Pharr did not have the name of the other man or his current status.

Tim Floyd, a spokesman for the Enumclaw Police Department, said the U.S. Marshal Service alerted the EPD the morning of Oct. 10, informing local police that it would be making an arrest. Enumclaw officers were on the scene and took possession of the meth found in Clayton’s possession. Floyd said Enumclaw would be handling the drug charge.

The amount of methamphetamine found in Clayton’s possession was “significant, a felony level, more than just personal use,” Floyd said.

Pharr said Clayton was being held at the Regional Justice Center in Kent.

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