Convicted killer caught day after escape from prison

COLUMBIA -- A convicted murderer who escaped from a maximum-security prison and eluded capture for 24 hours was fished out of the Broad River less than a mile from the prison by officers patrolling the river in a boat Wednesday night.

Forrest Kelly Samples, 36, and convicted burglar Andrew Lagrand Storey, 27, used a makeshift ladder -- crafted from duct tape and strips of wood flooring -- and a second, commercial-grade ladder to scale two razor-topped fences at the Broad River Correctional Institution on Tuesday night. Storey was captured late Tuesday night.

A State Law Enforcement Division agent and a state Department of Natural Resources officer captured Samples without incident on the river just north of the prison grounds at about 7:30 p.m. -- a full day after an alarm indicated he and Storey had escaped.

During that 24 hours, neighborhoods, woods, streets and highways within a few miles of the prison were crawling with scores of law enforcement officers from state and local agencies.

They brought with them dogs and binoculars, airplanes, helicopters and boats.

They knocked on doors, stopped cars and appealed to local residents to keep their eyes open and their doors closed.

Two nearby schools -- Ben Lippen School and Columbia International University -- followed that advice and locked down their campuses, keeping students in classrooms and doors locked.

Popular walking and hiking trails at Harbison State Forest just up the river from the prison grounds also were closed.

In the neighborhoods surrounding the prison, spooked residents spent much of the day looking over their shoulders and chatting up neighbors about the latest "sightings" of a man in prison garb -- all of them unconfirmed by police.

"Yeah, I'm worried," McKinley Canzater, 52, said from the steps of his sister's home on Club Road as a helicopter settled down nearby and SLED agents patrolled during the manhunt.

"I'm keeping these doors locked. I'm gonna be on the lookout for him, you can rest assured of that."

Officers from five agencies -- the Richland County Sheriff's Department, Columbia Police Department, State Law Enforcement Division, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Corrections -- coordinated their search efforts throughout the day.

They peered down from highway overpasses, watched railroad tracks and skimmed over the river, looking for signs of Samples in the 100-degree heat.

The only confirmed sighting came around 9 a.m., when an officer saw Samples clamber out of the river and head toward a wooded area near Monticello Road.

That sighting prompted authorities to focus much of their efforts in the neighborhoods around Brickyard Road and Monticello Road near Interstate 20 -- behind the Hanson Brick plant that is visible from I-20.

Samples and Storey had been doing woodwork in a prison warehouse at 4 p.m. when they were last accounted for, Department of Corrections spokesman Josh Gelinas said.

Their work was scheduled to end there at 4:30 p.m., he said, and they hid in the warehouse while other inmates filed out.

Samples and Storey were not subject to another head count until 9:30 p.m., Gelinas said, and it is believed they hid out and made their ladder until just before 7 p.m., when they made their break.

They apparently threw the commercial-grade ladder over the first fence, Gelinas said, and used the makeshift ladder to scale it.

They then used the commercial-grade ladder to scale the second fence, he said. It did not reach the top of the second fence, however, so the men were cut several times by the razor wire atop the fence.

After his capture, Samples was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries suffered scaling the fence.

Samples is serving a life sentence for the murder of a Laurens motel owner in 1996. He pleaded guilty to murdering, kidnapping and robbing Robert Holmes, 59.