SKOWHEGAN — A man who drove his car into a sheriff’s SUV and another vehicle before fleeing on foot, leading to an all-night search for him, was discovered early Friday in a horse stall off the Notch Road covered in mud and grass and shivering under a pile of horse blankets, authorities said.

Matthew Woodcock

Matthew Woodcock, 27, was arrested after the property owner reported to authorities that a man was in the horse stall, according to Somerset County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mike Mitchell.

Woodcock is facing several charges, including leaving the scene of a vehicle accident involving personal injury, operating after revocation as a habitual offender, driving to endanger and possession of an illegal drug, methamphetamine.

Woodcock, described as a transient, is wanted on several warrants from other counties for a variety of offenses, Mitchell said.

The search for Woodcock began Thursday and as word of it spread, authorities began receiving tips of sightings, including from a hunter who was in a tree stand in the woods off Route 150 near the Animal Medical Clinic and said a man tried to bum cigarettes off him, according to Mitchell.

“Every time we go there, we couldn’t find him,” Mitchell said Friday, adding that a K-9 unit was unable to track him.


Janet Schlenker of Notch Road was doing chores in her barn around 6 a.m. Friday when she said she noticed some items in the barn had been moved around and a stall door was closed. She opened the door and discovered a man sleeping.

She alerted her husband and they called police who arrived to arrest Woodcock, who had no shoes on and needed help from officers to get up and walk to the cruiser, Schlenker said.

The events began Thursday when a state trooper tried to stop a blue Toyota Prius on U.S. Route 201, the Waterville Road, but the car fled at a high speed and was being driven erratically, Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said. The trooper didn’t pursue the car and alerted law enforcement agencies, he said.

The Prius arrived in Skowhegan, crossed the Margaret Chase Smith bridges and headed up Madison Avenue where sheriff’s deputies tried to stop it on a stretch where the speed limit is 35 mph, according to Mitchell.

It blew past one sheriff’s vehicle before coming upon Deputy Ashley Smith who was driving a 2022 Ford Explorer on nearby Jewett Street. The Prius drove around the SUV and Smith turned on her lights and siren, Mitchell said. The Prius passed North Elementary School and around 2:30 p.m. it approached the intersection with North Avenue as a pickup truck was heading south toward town on the avenue, being driven by Alton Tuttle, 55, of Canaan.

“(Woodcock) drove right through the intersection and plowed right into that vehicle,” he said. “He circled around to try to get back on Jewett Street and Ashley was there and he basically collided with her vehicle.”


The new sheriff’s vehicle was drivable but sustained a couple thousand dollars worth of damage to the driver’s side door and fender, Mitchell said. The Prius sustained significant damage.

Woodcock fled on foot, leaving his passenger, a 25-year-old woman from Lewiston, in the Prius. She was taken by ambulance to Redington-Fairview General Hospital with leg injuries, Mitchell said. The woman, who told police she didn’t know the Prius driver, remained at the hospital Friday, he said.

Bucknam said Woodcock was taken into custody Friday shortly before 7 a.m. He initially gave a false name to the two officers who responded, he said.

“Matthew was covered in mud and grass with no shoes on, sleeping under numerous horse blankets visibly cold,” he said. “Matthew advised he had been outside all night and was running through the woods. He stated he knew the police were looking for him and knew his probation had been revoked.”

Woodcock was taken to Redington-Fairview for medical clearance before being transported to the Somerset County Jail in East Madison, he said.

Bucknam said there is a York County sheriff’s warrant for Woodcock for failure to appear for disorderly conduct and refusing to submit to arrest; a warrant from Rumford police on a probation revocation for illegal possession of a firearm; a warrant for failure to appear on a charge of unlawful possession of a scheduled drug from Lewiston police; and a warrant from Sabattus police for violation of conditions of release, operating while license suspended or revoked, refusing to submit to arrest and failing to stop for an officer.

Mitchell said an arraignment for Woodcock has been scheduled for Jan. 4 in Somerset County Unified Criminal Court. The charges against him could be modified by the District Attorney’s Office for Somerset and Kennebec counties, he said.

“He’s on a probation hold,” Mitchell said. “If he can’t make bail within 48 hours, he has to go before a judge.”

Morning Sentinel staff writer Kaitlyn Budion contributed to this report.

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