DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A prison employee has been fired after an inmate, who is now in custody, escaped from the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville.
Officials with the South Carolina Department of Corrections say the employee was fired from the state agency on Friday after the escape by 46-year-old inmate Jimmy Causey, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Prison officials say cell phones and possibly a drone were used to help Causey escape from the facility Tuesday night.
Causey was captured at a motel in Cedar Park, Texas, just outside of Austin at about 2:57 a.m. Friday, according to Deputy U.S. Marshal Brandon Filla.
At a Friday morning news conference, South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said their investigation indicated that Causey left the facility at approximately 8 p.m. on Tuesday.
Stirling said Causey used wire cutters to cut through fences at the facility.
"We believe a cell phone was used to facilitate and give this inmate the resources to escape," Stirling said. "We also potentially believe that a drone was used to help him get the contraband in to escape."
He said multiple cell phones may have been used in the escape. Stirling is calling on the federal government to block cell phone signals around prisons before someone gets hurt.
"These people are incarcerated physically but they still continue their criminal ways from behind bars," he said.
Stirling said Causey used a "makeshift dummy" to fool prison officers into thinking he was still in his bed. His escape was not discovered until Wednesday.
"We received information the next day that he was gone," Stirling said. "We started our count, and verified around 2 p.m. on the 5th that he was gone."
U.S. Marshals credited a "thorough investigation" by South Carolina authorities for Causey's capture in Texas.
"This was just good old-fashioned law enforcement, is what this was," South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Director Mark Keel said. "We took every lead that we had, we worked every lead to the end, those leads led to additional leads."
At approximately 1 a.m., one of those leads pointed law enforcement officials toward Austin and SLED notified Texas Rangers.
"They caught him while he was sleeping," Keel said. "There was no resistance."
Causey had both a semi-automatic pistol, a pump shotgun and additional ammunition, Keel said. In addition to four cell phones, Causey also had $47,654 in cash on him at the time of his arrest.
Keel said there were "a number" of people who assisted Causey, and said they intend to bring everyone who did so to justice.
Keel also echoed Stirling's call for a legal ban for cell phone signals inside prisons.
"It is senseless to me that the federal government continues to prohibit state agencies and state corrections officials from blocking cell phones," he said. "Unfortunately, as long as cell phones continue to be utilized by inmates in prisons, we're going to have things like this, we're going to have very well-planned escapes as this was, are going to be able to continue. And so we just encourage our federal officials to help us and help our citizens and keep our state safe by banning these cell phones and allowing us to block them in our state prisons.
Keel said federal prison officials are allowed to block cell phones but state officials are not.
Causey was sentenced to life in prison on kidnapping charges from 2003 in connection with invading the home of high-powered defense attorney Jack Swirling, who defended Causey in a previous case.
Swirling and his family were duct-taped and held at gunpoint. Richland County investigators believed at the time Swirling was targeted because Causey and his accomplice believed him to have large sums of money.
WIS-TV in Columbia reported Causey and another inmate used a trash truck to escape the Broad River Correctional Institution in 2005. They were both captured days later.
It is not yet clear when Causey will be extradited to South Carolina, but corrections officials say he will be placed in maximum security when he does return.