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Standing in their backyard Bobby and Desiree Pirtz, grandchildren of Joe and the late Jean Johnson, point to where they first spotted 22-year-old escapee Fred Cutsinger.

Standing in their backyard Bobby and ...

Pair with local ties help capture Rosebud County fugitive

 By Kay Braddock

It’s an experience they hadn’t shared in Idaho, and likely will not share again in Montana. 
Brother and sister duo, Bobby and Desiree Pirtz, who recently moved from Boise, Idaho to live on 40 acres of property once owned by their great grandfather and located about 10 miles west of Forsyth, helped Rosebud County officials capture a 22-year-old fugitive Monday morning. 
“Holy crap! There he is. Get down, before he sees us,” Desiree Pirtz recalled telling her brother Bobby after spotting Fred Cutsinger, of Billings. 
Earlier that morning officers from the Rosebud County Sheriff’s office warned the two that a 22-year-old male had escaped from the custody of Colstrip Police and was now believed to be running loose in the area.
As they worked in their backyard the pair  mulled over ideas of what they would do if they happened to see the alleged fugitive. 
“I thought there was a fat chance that I’d ever see him,” Bobby said, sharing that he first thought his sister was joking until he saw the “dead serious” look on her face.
Cutsinger was spotted about 600 yards away on neighboring property. Desiree called 911 while Bobby looked for binoculars. After the first ring Desiree said she hung up, fearing she had made a mistake and only spotted one of the many volunteers who was out searching for Cutsinger. An operator from 911 quickly returned her call and while Desiree gave descriptions over the phone, Bobby said he got in his 2001 Ford Ranger pickup and drove into the sagebrush fields chasing after Cutsinger.
“I could see that he was running and I didn’t want to lose him,” he explained. When the sagebrush got too thick Bobby began running on foot. 
With the help of the search airplane flying overhead, Cutsinger was found among a thick group of sage brush.
“Buddy, you’re caught. I’ll get you a bottle of water,” Bobby recalled telling the man, describing him as very hot, tired and sweaty. “There’s no getting away. Be better just to turn yourself in now before getting into more trouble.”
Bobby recalled giving Cutsinger advice before county officials showed up,  “If I were you I’d lie on your stomach so they don’t throw you on the ground.”
Although the experience was an exciting one, Bobby said he had sympathy for the fugitive who shared his same birth year.
“You see that he’s a person too and he just messed up, a couple of times – all in one day.”

Published August 29, 2009

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