Escaped juvenile serving 35 years for sex crime back in custody

Escaped juvenile serving 35 years for sex crime back in custody
Nicholas Rios is serving 35 years for criminal sexual conduct. He was tried and convicted as an adult. (Source: SCDJJ)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The 16-year-old who escaped from the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice late Wednesday night is back in custody Thursday.

DJJ officials said they caught Nicholas Rios a little before noon at the Flying J on Fairfield Road in North Columbia.

An off-duty DJJ correctional officer found Nicholas Rios on Thursday. SLED and local law enforcement had searched on the ground and in the air since Rios escaped Wednesday night.

Officials said Rios is being held at DJJ until his 17th birthday, when he will be transferred to the S.C. Department of Corrections. He’s only been an inmate at the Broad River Complex for a short time since his conviction.

In a news release, officials gave additional details on how Rios escaped. They said he was not accounted for during a formal headcount Wednesday night. DJJ organized several internal teams to search the campus.

After searching the over 200-acre campus, officials determined Rios had likely made it off-site after finding articles of clothing on the fence.

Officials said when they found Rios the next day on Fairfield Road, DJJ Director Freddie Pough confronted Rios, who failed to comply with commands and started running.

After Rios was apprehended and taken into custody, he was cleared by EMS before being transported.

Officials said Rios now has additional supervision and that escape charges will be pursued through Richland County Family Court.

DJJ is still reviewing exactly how he escaped the facility. Officials couldn’t confirm the exact statistics on how many juveniles have escaped from the complex, but said it’s rare.

Nicholas Rios’ Criminal History

Back on July 19, police in Horry County responded to a 911 call at 72-year-old woman’s home. Investigators said she had been attacked and had serious injuries.

On July 26, Rios was charged with attempted murder, burglary, criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping.

On December 12, Rios pleaded guilty to all of those charges and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was tried and convicted as an adult, but was being held at the juvenile facility until he turned 17.

Rios must serve 85 percent of his sentence to be considered for parole and he has to register as a sex offender.

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