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Jail escapees recaptured after manhunt
By ANNA BROWN
A man accused of murder and his teen-aged cellmate escaped from the Union County Jail Friday, prompting a manhunt that ended with them being captured in Buffalo Saturday morning.
Ashley Dean Tyler, 41, of 1304 Canal Road, Lockhart and Kenneth Steven Lipsey Jr., 18, of 1418 Peach Orchard Road were charged Saturday with escape. They were taken into custody around 9 a.m. near the Buffalo Mill Village. Both were transferred to the Spartanburg County Jail Saturday afternoon and are being held without bond.
Sheriff David Taylor the two men were captured because of teamwork and perseverance. He thanked the Union Public Safety Department, SLED agents, Jonesville Police, officers with Probation and Parole, the Highway Patrol, and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
“Without the teamwork of these agencies together, we would not have these two escapees back in custody in less than 19 hours,” he said.
Taylor said Tyler and Lipsey escaped during state Department of Corrections-mandated recreation time. They had been placed in a fenced-in area at the jail Friday afternoon. They took the fence apart, which was topped with concertina (razor) wire.
“They got outside the recreation area into another area,” Taylor said. “They threw a blanket over the concertina wire, hooked into it and pulled themselves up. They got on top of the jail, ran across to the other side and jumped off the roof.”
Bloodhounds began tracking Tyler and Lipsey immediately after their escape. They tracked the two to Buffalo and continued tracking them late Friday night and a perimeter was formed. A command post was set up at the Buffalo Fire Department. The tracking effort began again at 6 a.m. Saturday. They were captured around 9 a.m. without incident.
“The two bloodhound units tracked the individuals for approximately 10 miles through rough terrain and along Buffalo Creek,” Taylor said. “This morning, (Saturday) law enforcement received a tip from a homeowner who had spotted two sets of footprints with no shoes. Officers knew the two inmates had no shoes on, (jail-issue flip-flops) because they had lost them running from officers. The homeowner had been down to the creek about dusk/dark on Friday and there were no prints at that time. The bloodhounds were deployed off of South Street in Buffalo and tracked along Buffalo Creek towards Wages Road. After tracking the creek for approximately one mile, the footprints were no longer visible. The bloodhounds circled back and picked up the tracks going up into a wooded area and about 100 feet into the woods. The two inmates were spotted by deputies and SLED agents.”
Taylor said Tyler and Lipsey were lying down in the woods between South Street and Wages Road.
“They had pretty much run out of gas,” Taylor said. “They surrendered without a struggle.”
Tyler and Lipsey were handcuffed and shirtless as officers escorted them into the jail. Around a dozen officers stood around them or just outside the facility as they were booked. The two were examined by medics with Union County EMS.
Taylor also thanked the Buffalo Fire Department for allowing officers to use their facility as a command post. He said he also was appreciative of the assistance from all the volunteer firemen who helped keep a tight perimeter during the tracking process.
Taylor said Tyler and Lipsey were in the same cellblock with several other inmates. Tyler has been in jail since Nov. 30 on charges of murder, privation violation, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and failure to register as a sex offender. He is accused of killing his stepmother, Rebecca Tyler.
Lipsey has been in the jail since Aug. 8 for possession of less than one gram of methamphetamine.
When Lipsey was arrested, he was already out on bond on charges of grand larceny, driving on the wrong side of the road and failure to stop for a blue light.
Lipsey and two other men are accused of being involved in the theft of a Yamaha Kodiac four-wheeler from 1332 Peach Orchard Road on May 30. The victim valued the ATV at $4,000.
Taylor said Lipsey was probably looking at a short prison sentence for the crimes he committed prior to his escape. Now Lipsey has thrown that away, Taylor said.
The jail's deteriorating condition has been a cause for concern for several years. Taylor said plans are in place to address any issues that remain.
“We will have to go back and evaluate how this happened,” he said. “They were just checked on by correctional officers because they had just got through serving dinner. Within five minutes of them leaving the area where the inmates were that is when these two individuals made a break. It wasn't like they had a lot of time to prepare to get out. There are some security flaws at our facility and we need to get those corrected.”
Taylor said authorities don't believe Lipsey and Tyler had any help in their escape from anyone outside the facility. Neither had made phone calls from the jail Friday.
(Posted August 22, 2016)