WALB viewer tips help locate escapee

WALB viewer tips help locate escapee
Source: Irwin Co. Sheriff's Office
Source: Irwin Co. Sheriff's Office

OCILLA, GA (WALB) - Irwin County Sheriff Donnie Youghn said it was a tip from a WALB viewer that led investigators to find an escaped inmate in a wooded area about three miles south of the Irwin County Detention Center.

"I guess they had seen it on Channel 10, and I had got a tip that a guy on a four wheeler seen this guy crossing the field and had on what we were looking for," said Sheriff Youghn.

From there, a helicopter was able to find inmate James Collins on Aspen Road inside a roll of carpet.

"Dogs from the Lowndes County department of corrections were the ones who went right up on him in the woods in some bushes and found him and he was rolled up, rolled completely up in some carpet."

Sheriff Youghn was happy to have Collins back in custody so quickly after he escaped from the detention center by scaling the fence.

Collins is a federal inmate serving time for a fraud conviction, but it was a prior conviction for armed robbery that had law enforcement officers concerned.

"The faster we can get him, the less chances there are of him hurting some of the public," said Sheriff Youghn.

U.S. Marshals are now at the detention center to learn exactly how Collins got out and whether anyone helped him.

Sheriff Youghn said he was thankful for the dozens of state and local law enforcement officers from the area who rushed to Irwin County.

"I thank every neighboring county we got sent some help in. We had probably 40 to 50 officers."

Sheriff Youghn said he was very thankful about how quickly things ended.

"We owe that from the response from Channel 10," he said. "We owe that to the response from our neighboring agencies."

Copyright 2015 WALB. All rights reserved.