(WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Corrections says a fugitive who escaped from the maximum-security Lieber Correctional Institution this week planned it with a contraband cell phone and used tools likely delivered via drone to cut his way through the prison fences.
State officials held a news conference Friday morning to provide details on the capture of 46-year-old Jimmy Causey.
"We believe a cell phone was used to facilitate and give this inmate the resources to escape," SCDC Director Bryan Stirling said. He went on to say investigators believe a drone was used to deliver the cell phone and other contraband necessary for Causey to escape.
Corrections officials said Causey, who managed to escape the maximum-security prison in Dorchester County on Wednesday, was captured in the Austin, Texas.
South Carolina investigators learned Causey was in the Austin area at about 1 a.m. on Friday and notified authorities in Texas. They determined he was at a Motel 6.
Causey was arrested at about 4 a.m. Officers say they went into the room and found a pistol, a shotgun and more than $47,000 cash in the hotel room. South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said Causey was sleeping when officers arrived at the hotel and he was arrested without incident.
Jail records in Texas appear to show he was captured by the U.S. Marshals service.
Stirling said Causey escaped the prison at about 8 p.m. on July 4. Prison officials received information the next day he was gone. They found a makeshift dummy in his cell, a trick Causey used in a previous escape in 2005. Stirling said Causey used wire cutters to cut through four fences this time.
Stirling said Causey had help from a number of people. "Everyone that assisted him will be brought to justice," he said.
"I predicted this would happen," Stirling said. He has been pushing the FCC to block cell phone signals at state prisons for years.
"It's time to stop talking and time for action . . . Call your representatives. Call the FCC. Let them know it needs to be fixed. It needs to be fixed now. It needs to be fixed yesterday."
"It is senseless to me that the federal government continues to prohibit state agencies from blocking cell phones," Keel said. "As long as cell phones are continued to be utilized by inmates in prisons, we're going to continue to have well-planned escapes like this."
"We're spending $7.65 million to put up fencing and netting around institutions to prevent throwovers," Stirling said of money which could be better spent by the department.
Causey was serving a life sentence for kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, and other charges. His victim was Columbia attorney Jack Swerling. Swerling, who defended Causey in a previous case, was taken hostage along with his family in 2002 by Causey and an accomplice.
Swerling and his family were held at gunpoint and bound with duct tape. Causey was eventually captured and sentenced.
In 2005, he and another inmate broke out of Columbia's Broad River Correctional Institution. Causey and Johnny Brewer were arrested three days later at a Jasper County motel.
Corrections officials are working on bringing Causey back to South Carolina. "He will be in the highest security that we have for a very long time," Stirling, said.
Stirling declined to say where Causey would be incarcerated next,