Inmates escaped from Columbia Correctional Institution captured in Rockford, IL

ROCKFORD, Ill. -- Officials say the two inmates who escaped from the Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) on Thursday, April 16 are now custody. Thomas E. Deering, and James R. Newman were captured in Rockford, Illinois and taken into custody by the Rockford Police Department on the morning of Friday, April 17.

Newman and Deering escaped by scaling two perimeter fences, according to a release.

A neighborhood search was immediately conducted. Law enforcement initially used drones and K9 Units to search the area around the prison.

Officials say they learned that the two had gone to a local hotel and were picked up by the Portage Cab and dropped off in Poynette, WI. Initial information is that the escaped inmates had already left the Portage area prior to law enforcement being notified of the escape.

“I am extremely pleased that the authorities have arrested these two individuals who represented a threat to public safety," said Kevin A. Carr, Department of Corrections Secretary. "I am grateful for the professionalism and hard work of the Rockford Police Department, the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, the U.S Marshals Office, the FBI and all other law enforcement agencies involved in the safe apprehension of these fugitives.”

On Friday morning, April 17, a woman who runs the Miss Carly’s homeless shelter in Rockford posted onto its Facebook page that the two men showed up there wearing prison-issue sweats and thermal shirts.

She said she recognized them as the fleeing fugitives, Thomas Deering and James Newman, and contacted authorities. According to her, members of the Rockford Police Department arrived within minutes and “handled the situation.”

Deering has been incarcerated since 2001, and Newman has been incarcerated since 2011. Both have escape histories and were subsequently housed in the maximum-security facility. Although CCI has been on limited and restricted movement since March 21 due to COVID-19 concerns, limited movement for essential functions of the institution were still allowed at the time the escape occurred.