Residents shaken, yet relieved after escaped inmate back in custody

Vacant mobile home where residents say they saw Blake Rochester captured.
Vacant mobile home where residents say they saw Blake Rochester captured.

CHEROKEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Residents are shaken, yet relieved, after an escaped inmate was caught right next door.

“It’s scary. It’s had me rattled all evening,” said Gail DeSilva. Her and husband Roger DeSilva live next door to an empty mobile home where they say they saw Blake Rochester spend his last moments of freedom.

“I was scared to death because I’ve been out here all day,” said Gail. “I’m really relieved that they got him though.”

A manhunt that spanned two counties and crossed into North Carolina ended on Cherokee Ridge Drive in Cherokee County.

Several law enforcement agencies had been looking for Rochester since Tuesday. His family says he visited them briefly after escaping from the Livesay correctional center in Spartanburg County. Authorities say he also beat and carjacked a woman before sparking a chase by land and air.

Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller says the manhunt ended without incident.

“Agents with the South Carolina department of corrections along with SLED went to a vacant house that belonged to a family member,” the Sheriff said. “They were able to see movement inside that vacant mobile home and at that point in time, they realized it was him.”

The DeSilva’s say they hadn’t seen anyone at the mobile home for years until it was surrounded by law enforcement around 2:30 this afternoon.

“I seen him standing there.. Had him handcuffed,” said Roger DeSilva. “He was just kinda calm and cool standing there.”

Now they’re calmer knowing this escaped inmate is back in police custody.

“With them catching them within two days.. I think it’s awesome,” said Gail DeSilva.

Rochester has been transferred back into the custody of the Department of Corrections. What remains unclear is how he was able to escape from the prison.

That is part of an ongoing investigation.

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