ABERDEEN, N.C. — Law enforcement officers are searching near the Moore-Hoke County line for a man who authorities say escaped from the Hoke County Jail by overpowering a guard with Mace, stealing an SUV and eluding officers in a chase.
Authorities say William Barefoot, 40, remains on the loose in woods in Aberdeen near Sycamore Street. The State Highway Patrol spent Monday searching from the air, while more than 75 officers were on the ground. On Tuesday authorities were continuing to stop vehicles in the area and searching them. Detectives were also using bloodhounds to search nearby woods.
"It's primarily wooded, but there are a lot of homes and some unoccupied buildings in this area. We're searching all of these buildings," said Moore County Chief Deputy Neil Godfrey.
Godfrey also said that authorities believe Barefoot is still likely in the area.
"We have no reason to believe that he is out of area," Godfrey said. "We are also asking people to check on neighbors -- he has a past history of breaking into houses and hurting people and tying people up."
Hoke County sheriff's officials said that a jailer was assisting another inmate with a medical problem at 2:30 a.m. Monday when Barefoot, who shares a cell with that inmate, somehow overpowered the jailer and took the keys to her Ford Explorer.
Officials said Barefoot then fled to Moore County, where authorities there saw the SUV and chased it, with the chase ending in a crash at 4 a.m. Monday on railroad tracks in Aberdeen. Barefoot then ran from the crashed SUV into nearby woods.
Authorities said Barefoot may be wearing a gray jailer shirt, a black jacket that says Capt. Oxendine and khaki pants.
Barefoot, who is considered armed and dangerous, was one of two men convicted of shooting Scotland County sheriff's officer Major Dan Skamperle during a robbery in March of 2001.
Barefoot is normally confined in prison in Taylorsville, but was in Hoke County for a scheduled court appearance on Monday on charges from 2001.
Authorities in Hoke County are worried that Barefoot's long prison sentence of 84 years makes him more likely to be dangerous.
"He is considered armed and dangerous -- he doesn't have anything to lose, so him getting out is a situation where he intends to stay out," said Sheriff Hubert Peterkin.
The Scotland County Sheriff's Office says that Barefoot has continued to make threats to witnesses in the shooting of Skamperle.
The Hoke County jail has been plagued by problems. There have been other jail escapes in recent history. Officials said the jail is also overcrowded and understaffed. Construction on a new facility is slated to start sometime late next year.