UNION COUNTY — Two inmates who escaped from the Union County Jail late Friday afternoon are back in jail this morning.
Ashley Tyler and Kenneth Steven Lipsey Jr. broke out of jail around 4 p.m. Friday, triggering a manhunt that ultimately involved five law enforcement agencies that searched all night and into this morning for the pair.
Union County Sheriff David Taylor Taylor said that the Tyler and Lipsey escaped from the jail by breaking a hinge on the chain link fence surrounding the recreaction area of the jail enabling them to squeeze through. He said they then threw blankets over the concertina wire atop the fence around the jail and pulled themselves up to the roof. They then ran across the roof to side of the jail where there wasn’t a fence, jumped to the ground and ran away.
The ensuing search for Tyler and Lipsey involved not only the Union County Sheriff’s Office but also the Union Public Safety Department, SLED, the SC Highway Patrol, and SC Department of Natural Resources. The search soon came to focus on the Buffalo area and the county’s mobile command post was dispatched to the Buffalo Fire Department which became the center of operations for the search which continued into the early hours of this morning.
Shortly before Tyler and Lipsey were captured, Taylor said that bloodhounds had been used to track the pair until about mid-morning when the search had been halted in order to allow both the dogs and their handlers to rest. Taylor said they’d went back out into the field around 8:15 a.m. focusing on a creek within a perimeter established by law enforcement around the Riley Road in the Buffalo Mill area.
When they escaped, Tyler and Lipsey were shirtless and apparently lost their jail issue flip-flops as they fled. Taylor said that it was their footprints which helped searchers zero in on their location.
“We had a call early this morning from a homeowner who said there were bare footprints in the creek that had not been there at dusk,” Taylor said. “We went to the area and put the bloodhounds out and they followed the footprints for about a mile before they dispapeared. The bloodhounds then circled back and went up a bank and into a wooded area. They went about a hundred feet into the woods where they found Tyler and Lipsey laying down trying to hide. The handlers spotted them and they were taken into custody without any resistance.”
Tyler, 40, is charged with murder in the Nov. 19, 2015 shooting death of his stepmother, Rebecca Tyler, who was shot three times at her home on River Road. He is also charged with sex offender registry violation, probation violation, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
Lipsey, 18, is charged with possession of meth.
Taylor said that the two will also be charged with escape and will have a bond hearing this afternoon at 3 p.m. He said that after the bond hearing they will be transported to the Spartanburg County Jail which he described as a more secure facility.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.