Stillwater probationer back in custody

Marlo Pronovost
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Yellowstone County Detention Facility Photo
Zachary Johnson

A Stillwater County probationer is back in custody after adding a new offense to his record — escape.

Zachary Jonathan Johnson, 21, escaped from a pre-release center in Yellowstone County last Sunday, July 22.

Local law enforcement was notified of the escape the following day at 5:49 a.m., according to Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office dispatch records. The notification was made by the Montana State Prison system.

Johnson is described as 6-foot 3-inches tall, 185 pounds with red hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and grey shoes. He reportedly was captured the following day, but details about that are currently unavailable. As of Thursday, Aug. 2, he is in the Yellowstone County Detention Facility without bond.


Five months ago, Johnson appeared in 22nd Judicial District Court in Columbus on a revocation of his 2015 probation from a felony theft case.

The revocation was based on Johnson violating his probation by failing to stay out of trouble and failing to pay any of the $2,575 restitution owed in the case. Specifically, Johnson had been convicted of a misdemeanor drug charge in Colorado, and then violated the terms of the probation on that case, resulting in a jail sentence.

Johnson’s own attorney, along with Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde, asked Judge Blair Jones to impose at least a partial DOC sentence, saying that Johnson had chemical addiction and mental health issues that needed to be addressed.

Jones agreed and imposed a 4-year DOC commitment with no time suspended.


The original case involved Johnson stealing a miner’s truck from a Columbus parking lot. Johnson was found with the truck on Highway 10 and initially told police it belonged to his grandfather before admitting he had stolen it. Johnson was 18 at the time and his age and lack of a criminal record were the main factors in his 3-year deferred sentence.