Unsuspecting woman gives ride to escaped inmate, buys him shoes

James Sanders has been on the run since Jan. 26 (Source: Berkeley County Sheriff's Office)
James Sanders has been on the run since Jan. 26 (Source: Berkeley County Sheriff's Office)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A Moncks Corner woman said she had no idea that a man she had just picked up in her car was James Sanders, an inmate still on the run after escaping from the Berkeley County jail.

On Jan. 26, a woman was on her way to run some errands when she spotted a man on the side of the road, flagging her down.

"I rolled down the window and he came up to me and he said, 'My name is Brad Gillespie,' " said the woman, who preferred not to be identified.

Authorities say "Brad Gillespie" was in fact James Sanders who had escaped from the Hill Finklea Detention Center where center officials were scrambling to locate the inmate who was locked up for a criminal domestic violence charge.

Sanders told the woman, "My wife is in labor and my car broke down. I need to get to the hospital. Is there anyway you can take me?"

The woman obliged and said that Sanders didn't take any type of action to hide or "sink down" but she did notice that he seemed nervous which she attributed to Sanders' story about his wife being in labor.

"He was very nice and to be honest, I've lived for over 25 years in the area and there's never been a breakout that I've heard from the Berkeley County jail," the woman said.

During the trip to the hospital, a friend called the woman asking her why she was late for a meeting. The woman then told her friend that she had just picked up a man and was taking him to MUSC due to his wife giving birth.

The friend told her that Moncks Corner was in lockdown because there was an escaped prisoner. The woman said that Sanders heard the conversation and began to tell her that he was not the escaped inmate.

"I swear to God ma'am, I'm not that person!" Sanders told the woman. "When the news comes on tonight and they show you the picture, it's not going to be me. I'm not that person!"

The two also made a stop at a Family Dollar after the woman noticed that the man did not have any shoes. She bought him shoes and a coke.

At one point, the woman said Sanders began talking in depth about religion. He told the woman that he had "been praying all day long." In hindsight, the woman said that Sanders may have touched on the subject due to a bumper sticker on her car.

Sanders was then dropped off near MUSC where the woman said Sanders thanked her and offered to get her money which she declined. On the way back to Moncks Corner, she thought more about the incident and decided to make a call to her daughter regarding one of Sanders' story about being employed with a car dealership.

The woman called police after her daughter verified with the car dealership that a "Brad Gillespie" never worked with the organization. Police then came to her house and showed a picture of James Sanders which she verified was the person that she had just given a ride to.

Police told her she didn't do anything wrong, but she felt she needed to go to jail to escape her husband.

"I really didn't want to tell my husband that I picked up an escaped prisoner," the woman said. "He's been after me for years saying,' Don't pick up strangers.'"

The woman said her husband told her that if she ever does it again not to come home.

"The lord gave me a really big heart," the woman said. "Picking him up was not wrong. Not informing the police would've been wrong. I did call the police."

MUSC recently released video of James Sanders in their facility, visiting an acquaintance for two days. He was also spotted in early February in the Sangaree Parkway area.

"Please, please turn yourself in. What you put out in this world comes back to get you," the woman said. "You need to turn yourself in and face the consequences of your actions. Give the police a rest."

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