Local News

Convicted Rapist Still On the Lam

Posted June 26, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— It's been more than a day, and there's still no sign of a convicted rapist who disappeared from a prison in Sampson County.

James Pittman was suppose to be serving a life sentence. But now, he's a free man and that has a lot of people concerned. After a thorough investigation of the fences surrounding the Sampson County Correctional Center, authorities found no evidence of an escape. They now believe Pittman may have slipped out on a delivery truck, but it's uncertain whether or not he may have had outside help.

The prison emergency response team only comes out when someone breaks out. People along the back roads of Duplin County saw an unusual sight Thursday-- armed men and women preparing for a manhunt.

Fifty-eight-year-old James Pittman was serving a life term for raping a teenage girl 10 years ago in Duplin County. Corrections officers think he slipped out of the Sampson Correctional Center in a delivery truck before the 2:00 p.m. head count Wednesday. Many hope he's back inside for the next head count.

Clinton resident, Trista Jones, says Pittman's escape has her concerned. She says she doesn't feel safe. Jones is taking extra precautions and keeping her doors locked.

A medical problem may be working against the escapee. Assistant Prison Superintendent Jim Bullock says Pittman has a heart condition is has been taking medication. That doesn't make him any less dangerous. Bullock says that even with Bullock's condition, he is considered a threat to society.

James Pittman has family in both Sampson and Duplin County. That's where search teams are concentrating their efforts. Officers say there have been a few reported sightings of Pittman, but so far none have panned out.