A fugitive wanted by police managed to evade capture for three years by hiding in a solar-powered bunker.
Jeremiah Button’s cover was eventually blown when hunter Thomas Nelson stumbled across his Wisconsin lair, which included a log door carved into an embankment and a pedal generator.
Nelson found the door unlatched and entered the bunker, discovering the 44-year-old, who had disappeared in February 2016, just weeks before he was due to stand trial for child sexual assault and child pornography charges.
He told WSAW-TV: “I pushed the door open, and I look inside and I can see canned foods, there’s little storage boxes, and I’m like ... I gotta go in.
“I come around the corner a bit and there he is, laying in his bed. I mean, I was shaking when I went in, I was shaking when I went out.”
He moved away and called police, guiding them to the bunker’s door. A 20-minute stand-off ensued before Button surrendered. Marathon County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Kecker said Button seemed almost glad for human interaction.
Kecker said Button told deputies that he had been building the bunker while his case was moving through court, stockpiling it with items he found in the Marathon County rubbish dump.
Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Stefonek said Button set up solar panels on the bunker’s roof to power LED lights, radios, cooling fans and all manner of electronic equipment. He also had a pedal-powered generator for cloudy days. The bunker was small enough that it stayed warm in winter and cool in summer.
“He was not only surviving, but thriving in this structure through all of the different supplies he was able to find,” Stefonek said.
Button is back in custody on a $100,000 cash bond and is due back in court for a pre-trial conference on September 16.