Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Officials say an escaped South Carolina inmate used a dummy to fake out guards and help on the outside to make it all the way to Texas before he was finally caught early Friday morning.
South Carolina Corrections officials and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division gave an update on 46-year-old Jimmy Causey's capture late Friday morning, hours after his capture near Austin, Texas.
Corrections Director Bryan Stirling say Causey escaped on July 4th around 8 p.m. from the Lieber Correctional in Dorchester County. Stirling said the inmate put a paper mache doll in his bed to make it look like he was sleeping, then snuck away from his cell.
He was able to use wire cutter to cut through the fence and get outside.
Stirling said Causey used a cell phone to get help from the outside, and a drone may have been used to deliver him the supplies he needed to make his escape.
Corrections officials didn't realize he was missing until the next day. Around 2 p.m., an alert was sent out to the media that he was gone.
SLED Chief Mark Keel says they continued to develop leads, around 1 a.m. Friday, got word that he was at a Motel 6 in Austin. They contacted the Texas Rangers, who went to the hotel room around 4 a.m. and captured him while he was sleeping.
Causey offered no resistance.
"This was just good old-fashioned law enforcement," Keel said. "We worked night and day."
Officers say they found a semi-automatic handgun, a shotgun, ammo, four cell phones, and $47,000 in cash on Causey. He also had some type of South Carolina ID.
"Ff someone leaves the South Carolina Department of Corrections and tries to escape, we will hunt them down and look for them until we find them," Stirling said. "They will not be able to sleep or close their eyes and feel comfortable that they’ve gotten away because we will not stop like you saw this week."
Stirling said they're reviewing to see why it took so long to discover that Causey was gone, and there will be a review to see if proper procedure was following. However, he says the main problem was the use of cell phones and drones, something he and other officials have been asking the federal government for help on for years.
"It's a simple fix," Stirling said. "Allow us to block the signal. Allow us to stop them to have unfettered access...They are physically incarcerated, but they are not virtually incarcerated."
Stirling said the federal government has been reluctant to allow this, but if things don't change, there will be more escapes like this one, and someone could get hurt. He said the state is wasting money on putting up netting and other tools to stop cell phones and contraband, money that could be used to hire more guards.
"We're going to have things like this, very well planned escapes," Keel said.
Officials are working to get Causey back here as soon as possible. He was in prison on a life sentence for a kidnapping violation from Richland County.
Causey escaped from two different prisons in a dozen years. He and another inmate escaped Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia in 2005 by hiding in a trash truck. They were captured three days later.
Causey was sentenced to life in prison in 2004 after he was convicted of holding Columbia attorney Jack Swerling and his family at gunpoint in their home.