Only on 12: Escaped inmate back in custody after manhunt in Aiken Co.; law enforcement speaks out

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, July 2, 2012

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- It all happened in Aiken County near Reynolds Pond and Pipeline roads. The people responsible for the capture are talking to News 12.

"I'm a citizen of the county as well," said Lt. Chad Hyler, head of the tracking division. "I feel better going home at night, worrying about my family as well, now that we've got this person back where he belongs."

Hyler's division just happened to be training when James Lee Weaver decided not to show up for his work release program around 10 a.m. on Monday.

"Correct," Hyler said. "We were already in the woods when we got the call."

That meant four times the normal number of responders were at the scene: the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, Aiken Public Safety and Richmond County law enforcement were all just 5 miles away from where Weaver was last spotted.

"There's a job to do," Hyler said. "We do it from beginning to end, no matter how long it takes us."

It didn't take them long. A tip from a neighbor and a top-notch k-9 unit help law enforcement track down Weaver within an hour.

"We knew we were in the yard where he was," Hyler said. "Because the dogs get excited."

Weaver was found hiding under a trailer.

"From my understanding, he was from the Johnston area ... Edgefield," Hyler said. "So that's where he was in route, too."

He's is happy his team is in tact.

"The sweat that they just poured into it," Hyler said. "There is nothing prouder than the team leader being able to see that result in a catch."

Hyler says they train three days a week.

Weaver is not set to be released until 2016. He is serving an 11-year sentence for second-degree burglary. He is now facing escape charges.


News 12's photographer on the scene says the inmate has been taken into custody near Pipeline Road after an hour-long search.

Initial report:

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- The search is on for an inmate who escaped from custody.

James Lee Weaver is in a work release program and didn't show up for work around 10 a.m.

He was last spotted around the 200 block of Pipeline Road. Officers say he is within a 3-mile radius from the road and is shirtless, wearing grey shorts and tennis shoes. Law enforcement officers and tracking dogs are involved with the search.

Weaver is not set to be released until 2016. He is serving an 11-year sentence for second-degree burglary.

News 12 has a crew on the scene and will keep you updated as more information comes into the newsroom.

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