Search continues for inmate who escaped minimum-security prison in Forks

Mark D. Vannausdle reportedly escaped from the Olympic Correctional Facility in Forks Saturday morning.
Mark D. Vannausdle reportedly escaped from the Olympic Correctional Facility in Forks Saturday morning. Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

Authorities were searching Monday for an inmate who escaped from the minimum-security Olympic Corrections Center in Forks over the weekend.

Mark D. Vannausdle, 60, escaped at about 7 a.m. Sunday, according to a press release from the state Department of Corrections. A spokesperson for the prison told The Olympian Vannausdle was moving, as scheduled, from his living unit to the dining hall when he “took off on foot.”

The living quarters and dining facility have separate fences around them but there is no fence around the entire perimeter, DOC spokeswoman Janelle Guthrie told The News Tribune.

“We have a good sense of where he’s located, but have not located him yet,” she said Monday morning.

Vannausdle was convicted of first-degree assault and first-degree armed robbery in Pierce County, according to the Department of Corrections, and he started serving his 20-year sentence in September 2002. His release date was tentatively set for January 1, 2021.

Court records show he was convicted in 2004 of trying to escape from the McNeil Island Corrections Center. He was caught after an officer found a ladder he made out of shoelaces and wood scraps.

The Inmate Recovery Team at the corrections center is working with law enforcement, Stafford Creek Corrections Center’s Inmate Recovery Team, Washington State Patrol, and the Department of Corrections in the search, according to OCC spokesperson Darla DePew.

The teams, according to DePew, have been searching continuously. “When one comes in, the other goes out so they can rest,” DePew said.

The state Department of Corrections says the search effort is focused on the Olympic National Forest that surrounds the prison.

Vannausdle is a white man with hazel eyes and brown hair. He is 5 feet, 11 inches tall, and weighs 181 pounds, according to the Department of Corrections.

According to a Facebook post from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, he was last seen wearing a yellow rain coat, a tan shirt, and tan pants while walking north on the Hoh Mainline. He has ties to the Port Angeles area.

The Department of Corrections has advised anyone who sees Vannausdle not to approach him, but to contact OCC at 360-374-7000 or call 911.

The Olympic Corrections Center, which opened in 1968, is a minimum custody facility that houses about 380 male inmates. Commonly referred to as a camp or work camp, it is a facility where during the last four years of their sentence, inmates classified as “low risk” are eligible to work in the community under supervision, Guthrie said.

News Tribune reporter James Drew contributed to this report.
Sara Gentzler joined The Olympian in June 2019. She primarily covers Thurston County government and its courts, as well as breaking news. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Creighton University.