UNION COUNTY — If their goal in escaping from the Union County Jail was to no longer be locked up there then Ashley Dean Tyler and Kenneth Steven Lipsey Jr. were successful as they are now locked up in the Spartanburg County Jail.
Before 4 p.m. this past Friday, Tyler and Lipsey were inmates at the Union County Jail where Tyler, 40, was being held on the charges of murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, sex offender registry violation, and probation violation and Lipsey, 18, was being held for possession of meth.
After 4 p.m., they were fugitives, their escape from the jail triggering a manhunt that would ultimately involve seven law enforcement agencies searching for them throughout the night and into the next morning.
That search came to an end shortly after 9 a.m. Saturday morning when Tyler and Lipsey were founding hiding in the woods in the Buffalo area. They were taken into custody and were soon back in the county jail, but not for long.
Tyler and Lipsey were each charged with escape and went before a Union County Magistrate for a bond hearing on the charge that afternoon at 3 p.m. Both were denied bond and were then transported to the Spartanburg County Jail where they remain and will likely remain until they get their respective days in court.
The transfer of Tyler and Lipsey to the Spartanburg County Jail was requested by Union County Sheriff David Taylor who described the facility was being more secure than the Union County Jail.
Taylor said that Tyler and Lipsey escaped from the Union Council Jail from its recreation yard by breaking a hinge on the surrounding chain link fence enabling them to squeeze through. Once they’d squeezed through the fence, Taylor said they threw a blanket over the concertina wire at the top of the fence which enabled them to pull themselves over the top and onto the roof. They then ran across the roof to the side of the building that was not fenced in, jumped to the ground and took off running.
While the escape portion of their plan could be called a success, the staying free and remaining at-large portion was somewhat less so for Tyler and Lipsey.
Both men were shirtless when they escaped and would soon be shoeless, either losing or deliberately abandoning their jail issue flip-flops as they fled the area. Wearing only their jail issue pants, they made their way to the Buffalo area where they would remain for most of the 17 hours between their escape from and (temporary) return to the Union County Jail.
As the search for the two came to focus on the Buffalo area, the county’s mobile command post was dispatched to the Buffalo Fire Department which became the center of operations for the search. The search involved not only the Sheriff’s Office but also the Union Public Safety Department, Jonesville Police Department, Probation and Parole, SC Highway Patrol, and SC Department of Natural Resources. Also taking part in the search was SLED which, at Taylor’s request, deployed bloodhounds and their handlers to assist his office’s K-9 Unit in the search for Tyler and Lipsey.
The search continued into the predawn hours of Saturday when it was briefly suspended to allow the bloodhounds and their handlers to get some rest. The search resumed shortly after 8 a.m. when the bloodhounds and their handlers were deployed to an area within a perimeter law enforcement had established around the Riley Road in the Buffalo Mill area.
The focus of the renewed search was a creek within the perimeter where Taylor said a homeowner had reported seeing bare footprints that morning that had not been there Friday at sunset. Taylor said the bloodhounds followed the footprints for about a mile before they disappeared. While the footprints were no longer there, the scent was, and it lead the bloodhounds to circle back with their handlers to a creek bank. Taylor said the bloodhounds went up the bank and then about 100 feet into the nearby woods where the dogs’ handlers spotted Tyler and Lipsey who were laying down on the ground in an apparent attempt to hide.
It was unsuccessful.
Tyler and Lipsey were taken into custody without further incident and transported separately back to the Union County Jail where they were each again booked, this time for escape. After being booked they were both examined by Union County EMS personnel who had been called to the jail to determined either Tyler or Lipsey had suffer any injuries during their night in the woods. After that, the two remained at the jail until their bond hearings after which they were both transported to the Spartanburg County Jail.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.