Echo Glen inmates face charges for escape

King County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges against all three juvenile inmates.

Three teenage inmates at the Echo Glen Children’s Center who recently attempted to escape the facility have been charged for the breakout, the King County Prosecutor’s Office announced Nov. 29.

The juvenile inmates attempted to flee Echo Glen, a detention facility near Snoqualmie, on Sunday, Nov. 26. They were apprehended by law enforcement a few hours later.

One of the inmates, Drayton N. Miller, 16, has been charged in adult court. His arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 15 at the King County Courthouse.

In charging documents, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brynn Jacobson wrote that Miller’s criminal history includes three “serious violent felonies,” including two murders and an assault with a firearm.

Miller pleaded guilty to those murder charges in juvenile court and was sentenced in June, according to charging documents. In September, he pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon charges in adult court and was sentenced to 225 months, or over 18 years, in prison.

“He has taken two lives and violently assaulted others with a firearm,” Jacobson wrote in charging documents. “The state believes he is a danger to others and should remain in custody.”

The remaining two inmates are facing charges as juveniles and were scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 30. Those convicted in juvenile court are under the state’s control until their 21st birthday.

One of those inmates, a 16-year-old, is serving sentences for murder, assault and robbery. The third inmate, a 17-year-old, had prior assault convictions. The Valley Record does not name juveniles charged with a crime unless they are prosecuted as adults.

According to police reports included with charging documents, the three juveniles were taking out the trash from their housing unit, under the supervision of a single staff member, when they attempted to flee the facility.

Staff alerted the King County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over Echo Glen, of the escape around 6:19 p.m., documents said. The 16-year-old inmate was captured by staff before police arrived, while Miller and the 17-year-old remained at-large.

After dispatching a helicopter, K9 unit and drones, law enforcement located the 17-year-old northeast of Echo Glen. He surrendered upon confrontation with officers around 8 p.m., according to documents.

Drone operators advised officers that Miller had run through the woods to a gravel road and was running north toward a Snoqualmie neighborhood. Officers eventually found Miller hiding in the woods. He surrendered and was apprehended around 8:30 p.m., officers said.

The state Department of Children, Youth and Families had a slightly different account of the events. DCYF spokesperson Jason Wettstein said in a statement that the three inmates never made it off the property. Two of the inmates were apprehended near a facility maintenance yard, while the third was behind the campus sewage plant, he said.

No staff were injured and the escape is under investigation by a third-party Juvenile Rehabilitation Critical Incident Review team, Wettstein said.

A handful of escapes have happened at Echo Glen over the past few years, and in most cases — like the recent one — inmates were apprehended not long after leaving the facility.

A pair of high-profile escapes over the past two years, however, where a group of inmates escaped in a stolen vehicle and eluded law enforcement on a cross-county search, have prompted calls for immediate security improvements. Those incidents were the first times inmates had stolen vehicles during an escape, Snoqualmie Police previously said.

Since those escapes, Echo Glen has been working on security vulnerabilities, Wettstein said, including removing vehicles from the campus, contracting with security staffing, improving communications and adding training for staff. They are also in the process of constructing a perimeter fence, which they expect to complete in 2025, he said.

The state has awarded DCYF $8 million for security improvements at Echo Glen.

Wettstein also acknowledged that staffing has been an issue for Echo Glen, but said they had reduced the amount of mandatory overtime for employees and had added 30 staff members in the past six months.

“Juvenile Rehabilitation jobs are among the most challenging in state government,” he said. “We recognize that retaining our caring and professional staff is crucial. We still have work to do on retention.”

In an email to the Valley Record on Nov. 28, City of Snoqualmie spokesperson Danna McCall said communication between the city and Echo Glen has improved since a stakeholder meeting was held at Snoqualmie City Hall in July, where Mayor Katherine Ross asked for more communication from Echo Glen.

During the escape Nov. 26, the city used its new Echo Glen Escape Notification alert system, McCall said. The system was developed along with the King County Office of Emergency Management to quickly notify residents in close proximity of Echo Glen during an escape.