VIDEO: inmates escaping Union Co. jail, Sheriff wants security improvements

UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – We’re learning more about the escape and capture of two Union County inmates. Sheriff David Taylor says the facility needs changes, and we’re hearing from the man who helped get the inmates back behind bars.

When Freddie Moore walked along Buffalo Creek Saturday morning, he saw footprints in the sand that were not there the night before. HE says he called 911, because he’d been watching out for two escaped inmates – 40-year-old murder suspect Ashley Tyler and 18-year-old Kenneth Lipsey, Junior, who was locked up on meth charges.

Freddie Moore“I knew one of them [inmates] was down here,” said Moore. That observation led to the capture his neighbor Steve Beahrs saw first-hand, further down the creek.

“They were muddy and wet and looked tired,” said Beahrs.

7 News got surveillance footage from 19 hours earlier – inside the jail as the escape happened Friday afternoon.  You see Tyler untwisting a chain link fence — while in a recreation area. He and Lipsey squeeze through the opening, climb up the fence, and threw a blanket over the razor wire before running across the roof to a temporary freedom.

“Having them back in custody in less than 24 hours.. I was relieved,” said Sheriff Taylor. He says the rec area where the inmates escaped from has been closed off and they’re working to bring even more changes to this facility. “Our facility is at best a medium security facility. That’s not a secure facility when you’re housing pre-sentenced inmates that are wanted for capital murder.”

He says the razor wire isn’t adequate, the jail is not completely enclosed and the facility is understaffed.Fence taken apart

“We’re starting to do an assessment of correction needs that we have to put in place to make our facility a safe place to be,” said Sheriff Taylor. He says he plans to bring his concerns about the facility before county council.

He says this wasn’t the first escape sending residents like Moore on high alert.

“Folks live here by themselves – elderly folks and all that — somebody’s gotta look out for them,” said Moore.

The inmates are now being held at the Spartanburg County jail. Both face an additional escape charge…which could carry an additional 15 years onto their current sentences.

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