A homeless man was arrested Tuesday on complaints that he attacked and raped another homeless man in West Tulsa . The victim survived, thanks to a Tulsa County deputy's urban tracking skills, which helped him find the man just in the nick of time.
According to an arrest report, Jeffery Tallon, 25, attacked the 55-year-old victim near a jogging trail, south of Zeigler Park Tuesday night.
A witness alerted police and gave a description of the attacker, but police found no victim at the scene of the attack. Deputy Mic Bonin helped find the victim using his urban tracking skills.
The victim was found unconscious with multiple contusions about the face and head. According to the arrest report, there was excessive blood at the scene and hospital staff told the police that the victim required surgery.
Deputies said it was the worst beating they'd ever seen and, had Bonin not found him when he did, the man would've certainly died.
"It's not always finding a footprint like people think," Bonin said.
Bonin said it's also about understanding human nature and how the terrain can funnel people in different directions.
He first developed a love of tracking animals as a teenager growing up in Texas and learned much of his skill from his grandfather.
Now he's tracking humans, victims and criminals.
"It's a big dot-to-dot," Bonin said. "In rural environments, the dots are a lot closer. In urban, they are further away. But it can be done if you have patience and the medium to support it."
He said, even on pavement, there are things a trained tracker can identify, that there are ways to find impressions and prints in places you might never think.
But also, in cities, people often cross into terrain that leaves more of a disturbance, like tall grass or dirt, indicating not only that a person was there, but what they did.
"My heel came up, got my toes, this is my knee imprint right here, which lets me know I took a knee," Bonin said as he demonstrated.
He said, even if a person puts down the butt of a gun or a backpack, he can get information to help him track.
Bonin said he figures he uses his urban tracking skills a couple of times a month and said, when you start, you don't want to quit.
"Once you get on that track, you don't want to give the track up until you find the prize at the end," Bonin said.
Bonin has been to two urban tracking schools and says more departments are taking advantage of that type of training.