State officials: Escaped mental patient fled while unsupervised - FOX Carolina 21

State officials: Escaped mental patient fled while unsupervised

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Jason Carter's booking photo in TN. (Source: Williamson Co. Sheriff's Office and WSMV-TV) Jason Carter's booking photo in TN. (Source: Williamson Co. Sheriff's Office and WSMV-TV)
An undated photo of Jason Carter released after his escape. (Source: Oconee Co. Sheriff's Office) An undated photo of Jason Carter released after his escape. (Source: Oconee Co. Sheriff's Office)
The Seneca home where deputies say the couple was killed. (File/FOX Carolina) The Seneca home where deputies say the couple was killed. (File/FOX Carolina)
The Williamson Co. hotel where Carter was arrested. (Jan. 3, 2014/WSMV-TV) The Williamson Co. hotel where Carter was arrested. (Jan. 3, 2014/WSMV-TV)
WALHALLA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Officials with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health said the escaped patient who is accused of killing his parents in 2006 was unsupervised at the time he got away.

Jason Carter, 39, is accused of killing his mother and stepfather in Seneca. Carter escaped from a mental health facility in Columbia on Thursday was captured in Tennessee, according to state mental health officials.

Mark Binkley said Carter was part of a paid work program for patients and did various jobs, including delivering linens and mail. Binkley said the program requires all working patients to be supervised, and Carter was not. The program has been suspended and is under investigation.

Deputies believed he may have been traveling in a stolen 1991 White Chevy van with a tag of SG61580 with the number 244 on the bumper. He was spotted by a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer at a motel near Interstate 40 exit 182. They said Carter was taken into custody without incident.

Carter is being held in Tennessee awaiting his return to the Columbia hospital, said Tracy LaPointe, the mental health department spokesperson. LaPointe said Carter will return to a secure part of the hospital.

Binkley said officials are "second-guessing" the decision to allow Carter to be a part of the work program.

Carter was found incompetent to stand trial in the March 2006 death of his mother and stepfather. According to the sheriff's office, deputies responded to a home in Seneca where they found the bodies of Kevin and Debra Ann Perkins inside a locked room in the basement.

A spokesperson said Tennessee Highway Patrol received word from South Carolina authorities that Carter was in their area headed west along Interstate 40 about 6:30 a.m. after they were able to ping his cell phone.

Troopers said they saw a Chevy Lumina Carter purchased after leaving the hospital in the reportedly stolen van.

Troopers said they spotted the car at the Fairview Inn at Exit 182 about 7 a.m. and took him into custody about two hours later. A THP spokesperson said they do not know where Carter got the car.

FOX Carolina's Diana Watson spoke with an employee at the hotel where Carter was captured.

The clerk, who did not want to be identified but said she spoke to him herself, said Carter checked into the hotel at 4:30 a.m. and told her he was on his way to California, that he had family out there. She said he was not in the state-issued van deputies were looking for.

The clerk said state troopers came a short time later and were very professional, making sure other guests were safe while they took him into custody.

Carter is awaiting extradition back to South Carolina, according to THP.

Stay with FOX Carolina and foxcarolina.com for the latest in this developing story.

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