Denver police told ABCNews.com that Pvt. Terrance Hilton, who turned 20 Thursday while he was on the run, was at the Denver International Airport Wednesday on his way to Colorado Springs when he ran off, still shackled at the wrists.
Hilton, Denver Police Technician Loretta Beauvais said, was being escorted by two federal police officers from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Colorado Springs with a layover in Denver.
But around 3:15 p.m., his hands still bound to a belt looped around his waist, "he saw the opportunity to flee and he did," Beauvais said.
Beauvais said she was unsure how Hilton managed to evade not only his federal escorts but police and airport security.
"All we know is that he ran off," she said.
While airport security and Denver police scoured the airport and grounds, military police arrived to search vehicles in the parking lot. By now, he could be anywhere, though officials aren't even sure he's left the airport.
"There are many places to hide at the airport," Beauvais said. "We just don't know."
Police said Hilton may have hopped aboard an airport shuttle and left the grounds.
Police Say AWOL Soldier Has No History of Violence
Beauvais said Hilton, who is from Grand Junction, Colo., had apparently gone AWOL before and that was the military infraction that landed him in federal custody.
A spokeswoman at Fort Carson said the Army was releasing few details about Hilton or his military career -- only his name, rank and division -- HHC 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
The spokeswoman would not release Hilton's enlistment date or say whether he'd been deployed overseas.
He was described as a white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 145 pounds with light brown hair and a military-style haircut. He was last seen wearing a dark green or black hoodie with a white T-shirt underneath, black shorts, white tennis shoes and the waistcuffs.
Beauvais said the soldier does not have a history of violence.