A 78-year-old woman picked up a Hennepin County jail escapee soon after he clambered down from an upper floor of the downtown building and drove him miles away before he was caught later that morning outside her suburban home, according to a newly filed court document.
The disclosure comes in a request from the Sheriff’s Office for court permission to search the phone that investigators say Michael F. Simon called after he was on the street in jailhouse orange Wednesday morning and newly deemed a fugitive.
The filing also confirms that Simon, a serial burglar jailed on a financial card fraud charge, used “a blunt object” to break a seventh-floor window of the Public Safety Facility about 7 a.m. before lowering himself down one of the poles on the building’s exterior.
From there, a witness told officers, the 57-year-old from Hopkins ran across the top of a skyway to a parking ramp and then to the street level.
One lingering mystery after the Sheriff’s Office said Simon was picked up about 10 a.m. during a traffic stop in Little Canada was how he made it roughly 12 miles north before he was apprehended and eventually moved to the more secure Oak Park Heights prison for violating terms of his supervised release in connection with a 2016 burglary conviction.
According to the filing:
The woman told authorities that Simon called her home phone in Little Canada and asked her to pick him up at the Target store on New Brighton Boulevard in Minneapolis. While on her way, Simon called her cellphone several times before she rendezvoused with him at the store and drove him several miles east to her home.
What the filing does not reveal is how Simon called the woman, or made it from downtown 3 miles northeast to the Target store, but a Metro Transit bus offers a brief trip that could have gotten him there with little difficulty.
As the two stepped out of her home, law enforcement detained both of them and confiscated her cellphone.
The Sheriff’s Office said the woman has not been arrested and would not say whether it would seek charges against her. The Star Tribune generally does not name suspects before they are charged. Reached by telephone, she declined to comment.
Simon made a habit of calling the woman from the jail, and she had visited him during regular visitor hours. Simon also stayed with her for several months during the summer. The nature of their relationship is unclear.
Simon’s escape was the first at the facility — across the street from City Hall and kitty-corner from the Government Center — since the building opened in 2001, said Jon Collins, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.
Simon’s criminal history spans nearly all his adult life and includes at least 15 convictions for burglaries committed around the Twin Cities area. He was booked into the jail on Sept. 25 on suspicion of financial transaction card fraud stemming from a break-in in Edina, according to the Sheriff’s Office.