Local News

'He took off like Carl Lewis': Witness describes inmates' escape

Posted November 6, 2015 10:25 a.m. EST
Updated November 6, 2015 5:16 p.m. EST

— Two inmates who jumped out of a transport van Friday morning and were found hiding in a storage shed a short time later were each being held under a $1 million bond.

Police say Logan Long, 24, of Lincolnton, and Damarcus Dixon, 19, of Charlotte, escaped from a Lincoln County Sheriff's Office van around 10 a.m. as it drove on Western Boulevard near Interstate 440 in Raleigh. Seven inmates were in the van at the time, according to the sheriff's office.

The two men, shackled and wearing white T-shirts and white pants, managed to break free of some of their shackles, run about half a mile and hide in a shed on Betsy Meldau's property on Cheney Road before police captured them about 30 minutes later.

"(Police said), 'Lady, you need to get in the house and lock the door. There's some prisoners here.' So, I did," Meldau said.

Sky 5 video showed the men in handcuffs, sitting on the ground. They were then loaded into a police cruiser and taken to the Wake County magistrate's office, where they were charged with felony escape. Long gave the middle finger to WRAL's camera as he left the magistrate's office.

Some neighbors stood outside and waved to police as they drove by. Jason Peptis said he saw the men break out of the van and initially thought it was for a TV show.

"The dude kicked the back door open on that van, and he took off like (former track and field Olympian) Carl Lewis. I mean, he was out," Peptis said. "I just didn't know if it was real or not. With all the stuff on TV, I thought it's probably something they're filming in the area. I just didn't think it was real."

The escape was real, however, and authorities began alerting nearby schools, including Combs Elementary and Athens Drive High, which were locked down as police searched for the men.

Dixon's record shows he has been charged with two dozen felonies and misdemeanors since 2012. He was serving time for burglary, larceny and a conspiracy charge and was due to be released next July.

Long's record shows he is a habitual felon with multiple convictions since 2008, including larceny, breaking and entering and assault by pointing a gun. He was scheduled to be released in June 2021.

The two inmates were returning from an Oct. 29 court appearance in Lincoln County. The deputies planned to drop them off at Polk Correctional Institution in Butner after taking a female inmate to Raleigh, authorities said.

The state Department of Correction typically transports inmates, but it's not uncommon for sheriff's deputies to help out, depending on the situation, according to the DOC. The department referred questions about the inmates' transport to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

When asked if the two deputies in the van would be punished, sheriff's officials would only say that they were still dropping off prisoners Friday afternoon.

Eddie Caldwell, executive vice president and general counsel for the North Carolina Sheriff's Association, said there are no state standards for transporting inmates.

“It all depends on the equipment, the personnel available and the inmates," he said. "It varies day to day and case by case."