Changes coming for Lincoln County Jail after inmate escapes unnoticed

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October 18, 2006

A man held on federal charges of multiple armed robberies escaped the Lincoln County Jail Sunday and was on the run for 14 hours before anyone even knew he was gone.

22-year-old Terry Carter made it all the way to Columbia County's Nobb Hill area.

News 12 is On Your Side with how this happened...and what's being done to prevent future escapes.

For the small town of Lincolnton, this was a big deal. The sheriff is ready to make some big changes as a result.

With two layers of fencing, a guard post, and security cameras you can't see, you might wonder how anyone could escape the Lincoln County jail yard.

"I'm taking personal interest in this to make sure that this hopefully doesn't happen again," Sheriff Gerald Lawson told News 12.

Lawson was awakened early Monday morning to hear 22-year-old Terry Carter had been free for 14 hours.

The inmate had managed to climb over the fences without being spotted.

"This was a huge issue for us," Sheriff Lawson said.

He now knows how it happened.

After the inmates were called inside, the jailer then walked around the building to the front door, allowing Carter the chance to hide.

"See where you go right into the door right there? He stood right on the wall there. We got him on camera where we can see what he did," Lawson said.

News 12 timed the walk back inside, the same walk taken by the jailer at this post.

Terry Carter had over a minute and a half to escape.

And that minute and a half proved to be enough, because in broad daylight, Carter made it more than 30 miles...from School Street, Lincolnton to Nobb Hill, Columbia County.

"Protocols that we have in our security were not followed through," Sheriff Lawson said.

While Lawson's still investigating the incident, he admits the head count on Carter's group had not been done correctly.

That's why he's calling for a better training program.

He also says he's understaffed and could use at least three more workers.

In the meantime, Lincolnton's 60 inmates have not been allowed back in the yard.

Tomorrow, Sheriff Lawson is meeting with a fence company about the latest in security fences as well as with the Georgia Sheriff's Association.

Terry Carter still faces some serious charges. Right now, he is still at the jail, but this time he's being held in solitary confinement.

Of course, after this stunt, he will face additional charges.