Suspect who led authorities on manhunt released following arraignment

Joshua B. Christoffersen, 40, is being held in Malheur County Jail for unlawful entry into a motor vehicle and possession of methamphetamines. (Photo courtesy of Malheur County Sheriff’s Office)

VALE – Joshua B. Christoffersen, a convicted felon who led authorities on a day-and-a-half-long manhunt over the New Year’s holiday, was released from custody Thursday afternoon following his arraignment in Malheur County Circuit Court. The reasons for his release are unclear.

David Goldthorpe, Malheur County district attorney, said his office failed to convey all the information to Judge Erin Landis at the arraignment.

“I take responsibility for my office and the ball was dropped and the judge didn’t have all the information,” Goldthorpe said.

Christoffersen, 40, is suspected of a botched burglary near Harper on Tuesday, Dec. 31. He was being held at the Malheur County Jail on charges of first-degree aggravated theft, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and unlawful possession of methamphetamine.

Christoffersen, of Caldwell, Idaho, was arrested by police at the EP Minerals mining compound about 70 miles west of Vale.

Deputies from the Malheur and Harney county sheriff’s departments and Oregon State Police troopers searched for him on Tuesday, using a helicopter and drones. Malheur County deputies returned Wednesday to continue the search. 

He is charged with stealing a Polaris Ranger and a John Deere tractor from owner John H. Floweree. Police said a thief was loading the equipment at an unoccupied ranch in Harper when a neighbor intervened. The thief fled in a pickup truck stolen Monday in Marsing, Idaho, and ended up on a rural road near the Harney-Malheur county line.

The court record charging Christoffersen said he had a prior felony conviction but provided no details.

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