Brandon Michael Blouin, who’s accused of leaving his baby son alone in the woods outside Bend, missed his latest court hearing in Oregon, and his lawyer doesn’t know where he is.
“I don’t see my client, Mr. Blouin, here, your honor,” defense attorney Karla Nash told the judge Wednesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
The hearing was scheduled for the court to consider a motion relating to an arrest warrant alleging Blouin left the state ahead of his April trial. Law enforcement officials have received tips that Blouin traveled to Ohio and West Virginia since his arrest in May, according to court documents.
The Bulletin reached Blouin by email Tuesday, and he said he was unaware of the arrest warrant.
“I’ve contacted my attorney in regards to this and had no response,” he said. “I left her a voicemail. IDK what’s going on but when my attorney contacts me I’ll let you know.”
Blouin, 26, is facing six criminal charges, including felony child abandonment and custodial interference with a child, for an alleged incident in May that made international headlines.
According to police, Blouin, his 13-month-old son, Bradley Michael Thomas, and Bradley’s mother, Katelin Thomas, were staying in a vehicle off China Hat Road south of Bend. Sometime in the early morning, Katelin Thomas got out of the vehicle and fled, police have said. Blouin, who police said was under the influence of a controlled substance, chased after her with Bradley in his arms.
At some point, Blouin set Bradley on the ground near a fencepost and left, according to police. Eventually, at around 6 a.m., Blouin walked to a house and asked to call 911.
A wide-ranging search for Bradley included a team of wildland firefighters who were preparing to perform a prescribed burn in the area that morning.
Around noon, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Detective Doug Jackson followed Blouin’s footprints to the boy, who was unclothed and lying on the forest floor. Authorities said Bradley was unattended for at least six hours.
Bradley’s mother, Katelin Thomas, 18, told a story quite different from Blouin’s to a local television station.
She said Blouin traveled to West Virginia, where Thomas was living with her mother, who had recently been named Bradley’s legal guardian. At the time, there was a protection order intended to keep Blouin away from his son.
Thomas said Blouin threatened her and forced her and Bradley to leave with him. They were parked outside Bend on their drive across the country on the night of May 10.
She said Blouin forced her to leave the vehicle and wouldn’t let her take Bradley.
No charges were filed against Thomas.
Wednesday’s hearing in Bend also covered another procedural matter — the state’s request for a second mental health evaluation for Blouin.
Blouin’s attorney has already sought to have his mental health evaluated. In September, Nash filed a notice of intent to plead guilty except for insanity.
Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Ray Crutchley asked the prosecutor Wednesday why a second opinion was necessary. “The first opinion isn’t in yet,” he said.
Deputy District Attorney Van McIver said the state often asks for the state mental hospital to evaluate when a defendant comes to court with the opinion from an outside evaluator.
Blouin was last in the Deschutes County Courthouse in September, when he pleaded not guilty to all charges.
He told The Bulletin at the time he didn’t agree with Nash’s decision to plead guilty except for insanity and hoped to fight the charges at trial.
He reached out again on Oct. 1.
“I don’t honestly believe it’s in my best interest to remain silent. I am sickened by the report the police gave the media,” he wrote in an email. “They very conveniently left out very, very important information and twisted my statement to make me look like I just left Bradley.”
Blouin said on May 10, he was chased through the woods by six men — two armed with rifles and four armed with machetes — and one woman.
“They we’re gonna chop me up or cut me up with them big machetes,” he wrote. “I made the decision that if I brought them away from Bradley he would be safer. I made my only choice I felt I could make and ran for about 50 yards and fell and got up, turned around to see the woman picking my son up in his blanket and heading back towards the fence. I prayed that she wouldn’t hurt Bradley and I made my dash to survival. I was chased for the better of that night.”
According to court documents, authorities were tipped off that Blouin had left Oregon by Melissa Jordan, Bradley’s maternal grandmother in West Virginia.
Detective Jackson also spoke with a police sergeant in West Virginia who knew Blouin through a family connection, and an Ohio man who had been Blouin’s best friend until Blouin started doing “stupid stuff” and went to prison.
The police sergeant told Jackson he was worried what Blouin was capable of doing. He said he’d heard Blouin used to kill animals and called him a “serial killer in the making,” according to a supplemental case report filed in circuit court.
The former best friend said he’s seen Blouin in Ohio since his arrest in Bend.
“He believes Brandon is going to kill someone someday,” Jackson wrote in a court document.
Jackson, who is seen holding Bradley in a photo that was widely circulated in the media, was one of the only people in court Wednesday for Blouin’s hearing.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, email@example.com