By GENE JOHNSON and RIO YAMAT Associated Press
SEATTLE (AP) — A stolen yacht. A dramatic Coast Guard rescue. A dead fish. And the famed home featured in the classic 1985 film “The Goonies.”
Combined, Oregon police called it a series of “really odd” events along the Pacific Northwest coast spanning 48 hours that concluded Friday night with the arrest of a Canadian man.
Jericho Wolf Labonte, 35, of Victoria, British Columbia, was taken into custody in the northwestern Oregon resort town of Seaside, police said in a news release.
He’d been pulled from the ocean hours earlier by a Coast Guard swimmer, just after the yacht he was piloting capsized amid high waves. He was briefly hospitalized for mild hypothermia.
Labonte was discharged before authorities in nearby Astoria, Oregon, saw the rescue video and said they recognized him as the same person who covered over security cameras at the “Goonies” house and left the fish on the porch.
Police in Seaside, about 17 miles south of Astoria, said they found Labonte on Friday evening at a homeless shelter where he was staying “under an alias,” and arrested him on charges of theft, criminal mischief, endangering another person and unauthorized use of a vehicle.
He’s also wanted in Canada for “other cases,” Seaside police said.
It wasn’t immediately clear Sunday whether Labonte had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
“It’s been a really odd 48 hours,” Astoria Police Chief Stacy Kelly said Friday.
Police had been looking for Labonte since Wednesday, when an acquaintance alerted them to a video Labonte posted on social media of himself leaving a dead fish at the “Goonies” house and dancing around the property, Kelly said. The Victorian home was recently sold to a fan of the film, after being listed for $1.7 million.
Friday afternoon, before Labonte’s arrest, the Coast Guard shared stunning video of the rescue by Petty Officer 1st Class Branch Walton, a newly minted rescue swimmer from Greenville, South Carolina.
The 35-foot (11-meter) yacht had been reported stolen by its owner Friday afternoon. As the swimmer approached, a large wave slammed into the vessel, rolling it over and throwing a man, later identified as Labonte, into the water.
The mouth of the Columbia, the largest North American river flowing into the Pacific Ocean, is known as “the graveyard of the Pacific” for its notoriously rough seas.
Associated Press writer Rio Yamat reported from Las Vegas.