One felon escapee stole guns, broke into a restaurant and cooked eggs, then shot dogs and a homeless man. At least two escapees led police on car chases. Others stayed free as long as six months. All were caught, eventually.
They fought the law and the law won.
The November closing of York County’s only state prison, a minimum security center with no wires or outside walls to keep inmates in, means no more memorable escapes and manhunts.
Some escapes through the years from Catawba Pre-Release Center, south of Rock Hill, have caused public concern and ended with inmates committing other crimes in South Carolina and other states.
The most memorable might be Zachery Reaves, an inmate at Catawba who walked off in January 2016, before a crime spree in South Carolina and Georgia. Reaves broke into a private school near the prison after he escaped and stole several guns. After he was caught in March outside Atlanta, he was charged with killing dogs at an animal hospital. He broke into a restaurant where he cooked eggs, then injured a homeless man in a shooting, police said.
Reaves is still in prison in Georgia on a five-year sentence that started in late 2016 after being found guilty for those crimes and several other charges, Georgia Department of Corrections records show. Reaves has convictions for aggravated assault for shooting the man, plus cruelty to animals, weapons charges, burglary and more.
In summer 2015, two inmates in the same July week walked off and were gone for days before being captured. Bobby Albert Camp and Richard Keith Poe both were caught days after and later pleaded guilty to the escape. Camp was sentenced to three years. Poe was sentenced to 91 days extra in prison, records show.
In 2011, Catawba inmate Justin Barton led Chester County deputies on a car chase over 80 mph before crashing after failing to go back to the prison from work release. Barton got on extra 60 days for his escape, court records show.
In 2010, William Newcomb was on the run for six months after walking off the prison grounds before being caught near Anderson. Newcomb got an extra 18 months in prison after pleading guilty, records show.