Dillon County deputies search for escaped inmate

An inmate walked away from his work release program, but it took four days for the county to notify the media.

In most cases, jail authorities contact media outlets within a few hours of a prisoner's escape, so information can be released to the public to be on the lookout.

Dillon County Animal Shelter workers tell NewsChannel 15 they last saw inmate Shawn Jones, 39, cleaning the dog cages last Thursday and later realized he was gone.

Jones was serving a 90 day sentence for failure to pay child support, a non-violent offense. He had already served 45 days of his sentence before he escaped.

Jail officials say Jones was a pretty good inmate and never gave them any indication he would walk off from his work release site.

Shelter officials say they immediately alerted the Dillon County Detention Center administrator, Johnny Sapp, of Jones' disappearance.

Sapp says he intended to call the media, asking us to air Jones' mugshot, but NewsChannel 15 wasn't called until Monday morning.

Administrator Sapp says alerting the media was somehow overlooked.

Some people who live near the jail didn't know Jones had escaped either, until NewsChannel 15 informed them.

"I had no idea that we had an inmate escape in Dillon County, hadn't heard nothing about it, it wasn't on the news. So today is the first time I've heard anything about it," said Evans Hyatt.

Buck Ray said, " I could almost chuck a rock and hit the jail house from my house. I live right down the road from it, in seeing distance. This is the first I've heard about it."

Sapp says a jailer walks Jones across the street to and from the shelter everyday. He can't say how close shelter employees monitored Jones the day he got away.

This isn't the first time Jones has escaped from the jail. Sapp says he walked away in 1997 , but came back.

Some residents say Jones isn't being monitored close enough and they suspect he is long gone.

"I wouldn't feel like he would be anywhere around here nowhere. I mean, the average man who would break out of prison he'd be trying to get out of town," explained Hyatt.

Cliff Arnette, with the Dillon County Sheriff's Office, says they've entered Jones into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) as wanted. If he comes into contact with law enforcement anywhere in this country, he'll be arrested.

Deputies are also in constant contact Jones' relatives to see if they can help track him down.

Sapp says they have a warrant to arrest Jones on escape charges and when he is arrested he will not be eligible ever again for the work release program.

Arnette says Jones is considered a non-violent offender, but if you see him, don't approach, but call police.

If you have any information on Jones' whereabouts, you're asked to call the Dillon County Sheriff's Office at (843) 774-1432.