Escaped prisoners arrested in another state after homeless center recognized them

Escaped prisoners arrested in another state after homeless center recognized them

Two criminals who escaped from a maximum-security prison in Wisconsin showed up at a homeless shelter more than 100 miles away in Illinois, where they were recognized and captured, officials said Friday. authorities.

The founder of Miss Carly’s homeless services center in Rockford quickly identified the men, James Newman, 37, and Thomas Deering, 46, as the escapees and called police, an official said.

“We are extremely pleased that two extremely violent individuals have been apprehended,” Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea said. told reporters.

Newman and Deering are prisoners at the Columbia Correctional Center in Portage, Wisconsin, about 40 miles north of Madison. Miss Carly’s is about 105 miles south of the Wisconsin State Prison, just off Interstate 90.

The two men were allegedly helped out of their cell by kitchen worker Holly Marie Zimdahl, 46, of Pardeeville, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said Friday. She was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory to the escape crime, authorities said.

Newman and Deering were released from jail around 4:30 a.m. Thursday and were eventually driven away, meeting a driver outside a Piggly Wiggly in Poynette, about 14 miles away, a little before 6 a.m. Thursday, officials said. authorities.

The sheriff’s statement does not detail how Newman and Deering drove 14 miles in 90 minutes, or whether the kitchen worker is the suspected driver.

“Our goal is to find everyone who helped them escape, both inside and outside of the jail,” the sheriff said. “As the investigation continues, additional arrests are expected.”

Holly Marie Zimdhal (Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Wisconsin)Holly Marie Zimdhal (Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Wisconsin)

Holly Marie Zimdhal (Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Wisconsin)

The escape happened shortly after they arrived at the Rockford homeless center at 8:30 a.m. Friday, police said.

“Two men showed up at our door, shivering and freezing,” the center’s founder, Carly Rice, wrote in a statement on Facebook. “They had emergency blankets stuffed under their clothes. They looked like exactly the kind of people we want to help…but they weren’t.”

Rice told NBC News that when Newman and Deering asked for fresh clothes, she noticed they were both wearing thermal underwear and gray sweatpants — classic prison attire.

“I have a long criminal record myself, so I know clothes,” Rice told NBC News.

The homeless advocate doesn’t have a television, but he remembers seeing a Wisconsin friend’s social media post Thursday night about his escape.

So while a center volunteer served the men coffee and cigarettes to delay their departure, Rice excused herself to another room to call 911.

She said she also collected a fur coat that had been given to her, so the long jacket could cover her hands while she waited for police.

“I was shaking, I was scared and I didn’t want them to see my hands shaking,” she said.

When officers arrived after about five minutes, the men surrendered without incident, according to Rice.

O’Shea said one of the two men insisted he was not among the men wanted, although the police chief said photographs and tattoo records identified him clearly.

“It’s a photo, and boy, we can all look at a photo and say, ‘Are you sure that’s not you, because it really looks like you?'” he said.

O’Shea praised Rice for his quick thinking.

“It takes a lot of courage to recognize that someone might be dangerous” and call the police, O’Shea said. “That’s what we want every citizen to do. I’m not saying every citizen would do that, but we commend her and her staff.”

Friday’s capture brought back sad memories for Rice of her mother’s 2003 murder in Los Angeles, when they were both homeless and living on Skid Row, she said.

“You see, my mother was homeless and she was kidnapped, raped and murdered years ago,” Rice wrote on Facebook. “So the faces of these guys stuck in my memory after seeing their photos and reading the accusations against them.”

Newman has convictions for firearm, kidnapping and theft. Deering was convicted of sexual assault, kidnapping and battery. They are now off the streets.

Rice thanked Rockford police for handling “the situation with professionalism and composure.”

“I have a huge heart for those who are unlovable and those who are lost, but I will always fight to keep our city safe,” she concluded her message.