Multistate manhunt leads to arrest of Vermont man

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) We are learning more about the manhunt that led to the capture of a Vermont man in Pennsylvania.

Police say Everett Simpson, 41, allegedly escaped from an addiction treatment facility in Bradford. Court documents show he checked into Valley Vista last Wednesday. It's not clear which day he left.

Police say Saturday, Simpson showed up in Manchester, New Hampshire, where they say he kidnapped a woman and her 5-year-old child outside a mall. The woman told police Simpson then drove them all to a hotel in White River Junction, where she said he sexually assaulted her and then left.

The victim told police she feared for her life and the life of her child. That's why she told police she convinced Simpson to bring her to a hotel because she knew the hotel would have cameras. Simpson eventually left the room and the victim was able to call for help.

The incident began Saturday afternoon outside the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester. Police say Simpson forced a New Hampshire woman and her child into their car and then drove to the hotel in White River Junction. Police say Simpson then made the woman rent a room where he proceeded to sexually assault her in front of the child.

The victim was apparently targeted at random.

"At this time, the public is safe from Mr. Simpson and we look forward to holding him accountable for his actions," Windsor County Deputy State's Attorney Ward Goodenough said.

Police say Simpson told the victim he escaped from rehab and was looking for his wife, who he believed was cheating on him. Investigators say before Simpson drove to the hotel, he forced the victim to get out of the car in the Fairlee area and knock on the door of a house looking for Simpson's spouse.

At one point, the victim called to joggers for help, but Simpson sped off.

Monday, federal kidnapping charges were filed against Simpson, who has previously lived in St. Albans and St. Johnsbury. The government is currently seeking to have him transferred from Pennsylvania to Vermont.

"Kidnapping is an offense punishable in Vermont by up to life in prison. And at this time, we are anticipating that there will be further charges in Vermont and Pennsylvania," Goodenough said.

At this time it is not clear what those additional charges will be or if they will be tied to the federal case. Prosecutors say it is a multi-agency investigation.

"Hartford Police Department, the Vermont State Police Major Crimes Unit, the FBI and the U.S. attorney's offices of both New Hampshire and Vermont," Goodenough said.

Multiple people in Thetford called police after witnesses a woman trying to escape from a moving vehicle. Thankfully, both the mom and child are now safe.

POLICE TRACK STOLEN VEHICLE TO PENNSYLVANIA

Simpson led police across several states, from White River Junction all the way down to Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, where a police automatic license plate reader identified Simpson's car as stolen.

When he refused to stop for law enforcement, a chase ensued, which ended when the stolen Kia from New Hampshire was found abandoned. Police say Simpson then stole another car and ended up crashing that vehicle into a telephone pole in Upper Darby.

"We were watching the Eagles game and came out and saw the accident with police officers that had their guns drawn," said Jason Aungst of Upper Darby.

"I kind of came out front and was looking and the cops were lined up and down the street. There had to be at least 15-20 cop cars," said Kim Aungst of Upper Darby.

Simpson was taken into custody and was evaluated at a Philadelphia area hospital Sunday night.

WHO IS EVERETT SIMPSON?

So what do we know about Everett Simpson and his run-ins with the law?

Court paperwork sheds some light on the man. We know he has roots in St. Albans, South Burlington and St. Johnsbury. And that he was facing charges in three Vermont counties before this alleged crime spree.

He was most recently serving time in the Northeast Correctional Complex in the Northeast Kingdom. Simpson was there accused of stealing a car in Caledonia County September, leading police on a high-speed chase and then assaulting an officer in Lyndon.

He also faces child cruelty charges in Chittenden County and is accused of lying to cops.

In Washington County, police say he stole a car, failing to return a vehicle that was rented or leased.

Simpson got out of the prison in St. Johnsbury just over a week ago. That's when his lawyer requested Simpson be transferred to Valley Vista in Bradford. Judge Robert Bent from the Caledonia County Court lowered Simpson's bail so that he could pay it, be released and go to treatment. Court documents show Simpson arrived at Valley Vista last Wednesday but he didn't stay long. It is unclear when Simpson left Valley Vista, but police say he stole a car in Bradford and then materialized at the Manchester mall parking lot Saturday.

So how can someone escape from a treatment facility with no one finding out? One of the stipulations when Simpson was released from prison and sent to treatment was that if he were to leave Valley Vista against medical advice, Valley Vista must immediately contact police. Neither St. Johnsbury Police nor Vermont State Police say they were notified when Simpson took off from Bradford. No one at the Bradford Police Department could tell us whether they were notified about Simpson's escape from treatment in their town.

Click here to read the criminal complaint against Everett Simpson.