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Escaped inmate Jimmy Causey has long rap sheet, escaped once before

Jimmy Causey.jpg
Jimmy Causey (SCDC)

Jimmy Causey, the inmate who escaped this week from a state-run maximum security prison in Dorchester County, has a lengthy criminal history, rivaled closely by his record of misbehavior in prison. He has also escaped a maximum security South Carolina prison once before.

Causey, 46, was reported missing Wednesday from Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville. He is 6-foot-2, 177 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. Officials say he has a scar on the left side of his chin. Causey is considered extremely dangerous.

Causey was in prison at Lieber after a judge in 2004 gave him five life sentences for holding Columbia-area attorney Jack Swerling and his family hostage at gunpoint in their home in 2002. Causey's life sentences were for three kidnapping charges, plus an armed robbery and first degree burglary charge.

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Court records show Causey was originally convicted of six total counts of kidnapping in connection to the Swerling case, plus petty larceny and grand larceny. Before the sentences were upgraded to life, he was sentenced to 20 years in jail for each count of kidnapping, armed robbery and burglary, 10 years for the grand larceny, and 30 days for the petty larceny.

Causey's escape from Lieber marks the second time he has gotten free from a maximum security South Carolina prison. In Nov. 2005, Causey and Johnny Brewer used an Escape from Alcatraz trick to escape Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia.

According to the Associated Press, the inmates hid in a trash bin, and hitched a ride out of the prison in the back of a garbage truck. They concealed their absence by making fake heads out of toilet paper, which were placed in the inmates' beds. The ruse worked so well, it took prison staff nearly five hours to confirm their escape.

Causey and Brewer were captured two days later at a hotel in Jasper County. Causey was given an extra 10 years in prison for the escape.

Officials with the S.C. Dept. of Corrections have not clarified how long it had been since Causey was last accounted for when the public was notified of his escape from Leiber around 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Corrections officials also have not provided any details about how Causey escaped Leiber.

According to the DOC’s website, there have been 52 reported escapes from South Carolina’s five maximum security prisons since 1990. The last escape statewide prior to Causey’s escape Wednesday was in 2009.

ABC News 4 has asked the Dept. of Corrections for information on when was the last escape from Lieber prior to Causey, and how many of the 52 maximum security prison escapes since 1990 were from Lieber. The DOC has not provided us with that information yet.

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In addition to his convictions for the Swerling case, Causey also has prior convictions for grand larceny, second degree burglary, receiving stolen property, shoplifting, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, breaking into a motor vehicle and failure to stop for an officer. He was sentenced in 1992 to 15 years in jail on the second degree burglary conviction.

In recent years, prison records show Causey began to violate prison rules frequently. The first noted disciplinary action against him is noted in 2013, when he was found in possession of contraband.

Since then, he's been disciplined numerous times. Below is a list of all the violations he's been cited for, with the number of times he's been cited for each.

  • Cell phone possession / attempted possession (4)
  • Contraband possession (3)
  • Drug possession / use (2)
  • Weapon possession (2)
  • Creating a disturbance (1)
  • Failing to obey orders (1)
  • Threatening to harm an employee (1)
  • Creating of / assisting with access of social network site (1)

Search efforts continued for Causey Thursday around the Lowcountry. If you see him, or have any information about where he may be, call the S.C. Dept. of Corrections at 1-877-349-2130, or the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office at 843-873-5111. A reward is being offered for information leading to his capture.