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North Carolina killer escapes from minimum-security prison

September 24, 2012|By Matt Pearce

A man convicted of shooting and killing two men in 1980 has escaped from a minimum-security North Carolina prison.

James J. Ladd, 51, fled Sunday and was still on the loose as of Monday evening, eluding police choppers and bloodhounds and leaving others wondering how he got away.

Ladd was serving a triple life sentence at the Tillery Correctional Center in Halifax when he escaped. Prisoners there work on farm crews, and authorities say Ladd escaped while doing farm work, leaving his tractor behind. Dogs soon lost his scent.

The Halifax County Sheriff’s Office referred the Los Angeles Times to prison officials, who didn’t have an update on the search Monday evening.

Ladd recently became eligible for parole, but had been denied release in 2011. He was eligible for another review in 2014.

Prison officials said he was well behaved, which is why he was in a minimum-security facility. Officials said farm workers were not constantly watched.

Ladd was a vote away from getting the death penalty in his 1981 trial. The the jury deadlocked, 11 to 1, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. 

The paper reported that a psychiatrist testified at the trial that Ladd was mentally ill and that he had “Popeye syndrome,” in which he thought himself larger than life.

He was convicted of killing David Gwynn Edwards, 22, and Johnny Parks Henderson, 25, as part of a robbery on a farm in Yadkin County, N.C.

Now officials are worried that Ladd may be long gone.

"At this point it's been 24 hours, so if he got a ride he could be hundreds of miles away at this point,” Keith Acree, a North Carolina prison spokesman, told ABC News.

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