Officer Rusty Foster and K-9 “Ciro”

The Re-Capture of the Murderer of Oregon State Trooper Bret Clodfelter

Franscisco Manzo-Hernandez was convicted of murdering Oregon State Trooper Bret Clodfelter by shooting him 4 times in the back of the head. In 1993 he was sentenced to life in prison in the Oregon State Penitentiary. Due to overcrowding, he was transferred to a jail in Denton, Texas where he escaped with an accomplice and fellow inmate known only as Ruiz, on September 19, 1996 . Both were recaptured through the diligence and untiring efforts of Officer Rusty Foster and his K-9 “Ciro”. Without their devotion to duty, both of these criminals would have escaped to freedom in Mexico. The account of their capture as told by Officer Foster.

“I was dispatched with my K-9 dog Ciro and on scene quickly, as I lived only a few blocks away. It is an entirely different experience when you are literally hunting a killer blocks away from your own wife and children…quite motivating I must say.

I found Ruiz in 15 minutes. A brief time unloading, setting up in a harness and tracking line… a scout, a strong cut, two fences then about a 400-500 yard track at a 3/4 sprint through a field into some heavy brush. He didn’t get far with an injured ankle. The newspapers said there was a big blood trail was left. I had to laugh when I read this as I never saw blood and I was running trying not to get my arm yanked off by an 80 pound furry rocket. Ruiz hid under a muddy bank overhang in a creek. Ciro knew he was there… I really had no clue. The guy could’ve killed me if was armed. He couldn’t hold his breath long enough for us to leave. He surrendered without incident.

Hernandez , the killer of Trooper Clodfelter was tougher. He wasn’t injured and he REALLY wanted to get away. He went nearly a mile. I went through brush so thick I was shredded, cut, and stung by the sweat pouring off me. Thank God he was running away from MY street!

Those stories about using a creek to lose the dog… not always… water hydrates and enhances odor. I went through at least 2 creek crossings up to my waist. I lost Hernandez about three times but doubled back into large loops to cut the track again. We were very tired. I think the main reason me and Ciro lost the trail was due to speed. We were going very fast and most likely shooting past turns. Just as we got to within 50 yards of the perimeter… 50 yards to freedom for Hernandez , I cut his trail for the last time. Being so close to the road I pulled Ciro off the track and ran to the street to block him before he ran out. Hernandez SAW me before I saw him. Again, I was a exposed… had he been armed this story may have been different. Instead, he chose to call out to me rather than get bit… Damn!

Glory days remembered that I will never get back and most everyone has forgotten. We had a lot of help out there that day. I took two officers with me for back-up and they ran as hard as I did only without the ease of being towed by Ciro.

Ciro is long gone. I remember his last breath at the vet’s office. Old age and kidney failure took him… The last thing he ever did… His last move before he died in my arms was to wag his tail. His eyes were dilated when this happened. I would say he was passed on by only a second… he was half here and half there. I will always wonder what he saw. Who did he wag his tail for as he greeted them? God? I don’t know. It was very profound for me. I refuse to believe it was a reflex. I haven’t thought of these days for a long… long time. It hurt too badly.

I posted the above picture of Ciro and me on my Flickr page just before I ordered Robert Dent ’s Spanish language book. It was quite a coincidence that I got the book in the mail about the same time I posted the picture. Inside was the story about the murder of Oregon State Trooper Bret Clodfelter by the coward… Franscisco Manzo-Hernandez .

It is indeed a small world. I was honored to meet (online) some of Bret ‘s friends Robert Dent and Bruce Phillips from the Oregon State Police. I was also privileged to receive a letter from Bret ‘s father, Lloyd Clodfelter .”

Rusty Foster

Officer – Denton , Texas Police Dept.