A Maine man considered armed and dangerous, whom police have sought for 21/2 weeks, was being tracked Sunday through cornfields in a rural area of eastern Colorado.
Jason Belmer, 25, fled into a cornfield Sunday after the vehicle that he and Michelle Carmack, 27, both of Corinna, were traveling in was stopped by a Colorado State Patrol officer on westbound Interstate 70, five miles from Burlington.
A press release issued by the Colorado State Patrol on Sunday afternoon states that Carmack was driving the 1994 Saturn with New Hampshire plates. When Carmack was found to have no valid driver’s license, the trooper checked Belmer.
“The trooper became suspicious when the male passenger was unable to spell the false name he had given the trooper,” the release said. “When the subject realized that he had not convinced the trooper of his identity, he fled on foot, running into a corn field and out of sight.”
Before he fled, Belmer reportedly struggled with the trooper in an attempt to get the officer’s gun. Colorado State Patrol and local authorities searched the cornfield for several hours with two airplanes and search dogs but the search was called off after it started raining.
Carmack did not flee and was charged with trafficking in cocaine and hindering apprehension to avoid prosecution. She is being held at Carson City County Jail in Colorado, according to Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland.
Belmer has been the subject of a statewide manhunt since he fled into the woods in Corinna on Aug. 19 after police came to his grandmother’s home.
Federal drug agents subsequently found 8 pounds of cocaine with a street value of $380,000 buried under a shed in the yard. The discovery was considered one of the area’s largest cocaine seizures.
The manhunt intensified last week after Carmack’s car was found abandoned near the Piscataquis River in Medford. Police were concerned that she had not gone with Belmer willingly.
Relatives reported last hearing from Carmack more than a week ago when she left a message on her brother’s answering machine, according to McCausland.
About 25 officers from the Maine State Police Diving Team and the Maine Warden Service spent nearly two days searching for Carmack in and around the river.
Belmer has a long criminal history, including convictions for assault on a police officer, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary. In the wake of the Corinna discovery, a warrant was issued for Belmer for aggravated trafficking in Schedule W drugs, a Class A felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison.
Collaborations between detectives with the Waterville and Newport police departments and the Maine State Police led investigators to the home of Belmer’s grandmother on Greenbush Road in Corinna.
Belmer was in the back yard when police arrived at his grandmother’s home and ran into the woods after he was spotted. Tipped off by freshly turned earth, police found a large plastic bag holding 15 other bags of varying sizes filled with cocaine buried underneath a shed.
The largest bag held 736 grams and the smallest 8 grams.
Belmer earned local notoriety five years ago when he was in Newport District Court facing burglary charges. The then-20-year-old crashed through a window at the courthouse, fled police and jumped off a bridge into the Sebasticook River, sparking a two-hour manhunt.
Belmer was found in his underwear, running on a sandbar in the river, muddy and bleeding. He was sentenced to two years in prison on the escape and burglary charges.
At the time of his arrest in 1999, Belmer was wanted on a warrant from Haverhill, Mass., where he was on probation for assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer.
Belmer also has been involved in holding another woman against her will, according to Pittsfield police. A local resident, Lori Merservey, was stopped by Pittsfield Officer Michael Cote on Aug. 18 for allegedly operating after suspension, according to Chief Stephen Emery.
Belmer was the passenger in her vehicle, and since there was no arrest warrant or cause to hold Belmer at the time, Cote allowed him to leave the traffic stop.
Once Belmer was out of sight, however, Merservey told Cote that Belmer had forced her to drive to Massachusetts, where he purchased drugs, and then to drive him back, Emery said last week.
It is believed by police that Belmer had a large amount of cash and the entire package of cocaine on him at the time of the stop. The department is still reviewing whether kidnapping charges will be lodged against Belmer.