Officials: Escaped inmate had help from drone

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina inmate used wire cutters that were likely dropped from a drone as part of an elaborate escape plan that also included cellphones smuggled into prison, guns and at least $47,000 in cash, authorities said Friday after his capture.

Jimmy Causey's second escape from maximum security prisons in South Carolina lasted more than two days before a tip led Texas Rangers to a motel room in Austin where he was found sleeping around 4 a.m. Friday, South Carolina state police said.

Prison officials are now investigating how Causey's escape on Tuesday from Lieber Correctional Institution went unnoticed for six hours, South Carolina Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said.

It was Causey's second escape from maximum security prisons in South Carolina since being sentenced to life in prison 13 years ago for holding a lawyer at gunpoint in his Columbia home. Authorities have said Causey didn't feel the defense attorney did enough to keep Causey out of prison in the early 1990s.

The first time, Causey and another inmate hid in a garbage truck leaving prison and were arrested three days later after a woman delivering pizza to a motel called police because she thought they looked suspicious.

The second time, Causey had a well-thought out plan, coordinating his escape with a smuggled cellphone and cutting through four fences with wire cutters, likely dropped to him in the prison yard from a drone, Stirling said.

Like the first time, Causey, 46, fooled guards by putting a dummy in his bed. He escaped around 8 p.m. on July 4, but prison officials didn't realize he was gone until 2 a.m. the next day, Stirling said.

Stirling wouldn't talk specifically about whether guards did anything wrong that night, but did say "sometimes the staff just has to follow policies and procedures."

Investigators are trying to figure out how Causey got all of that cash. He had four cellphones with him and an ID card, State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said.

"Everyone who assisted him —we intend on bringing them to justice as well," Keel said.

The motel room where Causey was arrested is about 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) west of the South Carolina prison where he escaped.

Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Charleston.

Following his first capture, Causey was held in South Carolina's most secure, super-max facility in Columbia, but he was eventually returned to the system's general population.

Stirling wouldn't give details about where Causey would be held this time, except to say it will be "a high, high security unit."