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 last night is back in custody today.

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

SLED and local law enforcement found Nicholas Rios on Thursday. They searched on the ground and in the air since he escaped last night. He’s only been an inmate at the Broad River Complex for a short time since his conviction.

Officials said in a release tonight that Rios is being held at DJJ until his 17th birthday when he will be transferred to the SC Department of Corrections.

In the release, officials gave additional details on how Rios escaped. They said that after a formal headcount was conducted last night, Rios was unaccounted for. They said DJJ then organized several internal teams to search the campus.

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

Officials said when they found Rios on Fairfield Road, Rios failed to comply with investigators and started running. After he 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.

Here’s a recap of Rio’s case:

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 as an adult but he was being at the juvenile facility because he’s only 16.

DJJ officials couldn’t confirm the exact statistics on how many juveniles have escaped from the complex, but officials said it’s rare.

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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