SCDOC: Escaped Upstate inmate caught in Cherokee Co. - FOX Carolina 21

SCDOC: Escaped Upstate inmate caught in Cherokee Co.

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Escaped inmate Blake Rochester (Source: SCDC) Escaped inmate Blake Rochester (Source: SCDC)
Manhunt underway for escaped inmate. (September 20, 2016 FOX Carolina) Manhunt underway for escaped inmate. (September 20, 2016 FOX Carolina)
Manhunt underway for escaped inmate. (September 20, 2016 FOX Carolina) Manhunt underway for escaped inmate. (September 20, 2016 FOX Carolina)
Manhunt underway for escaped inmate. (September 20, 2016 FOX Carolina) Manhunt underway for escaped inmate. (September 20, 2016 FOX Carolina)
Police search for the escaped inmate for a second day. (September 21, 2016 FOX Carolina) Police search for the escaped inmate for a second day. (September 21, 2016 FOX Carolina)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Investigators said an inmate who escaped from the South Carolina Department of Corrections on Tuesday has been recaptured.

Blake Rochester was sentenced to nearly five years for breaking into a vehicle. He was assigned to the Livesay Correctional Institution in Spartanburg from which he escaped on Tuesday morning according to the SCDC.

Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said Rochester carjacked a woman on Magnolia Street in Spartanburg.

Spartanburg police said the carjacking took place just after 7 a.m. The female victim told officers woman that after she exited her 2011 Buick after parking in a parking space on a side street near 205 Magnolia Street, a man walked up behind her and told her to give him the keys to her car. The man then grabbed her purse and began digging for the keys. He reportedly punched the woman in the chest several times before jumping into the vehicle and driving off.  The woman was taken to the hospital. The extent of her injuries was not known.

Mueller said the suspect drove the stolen vehicle to Old Racetrack Road, where deputies saw him run into the woods.

Mueller said K-9s were scouring the area and teams from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office were assisting in the manhunt, which began along Old Racetrack Road and Union Highway.

Mueller said officers were also posted at at nearby Corinth Elementary School and daycare as a precaution. The school was not placed on lockdown. Mueller said a reverse 911 call was also issued to residents living within three miles of where the escaped inmate was last seen.

Limestone College advised students via e-mail to be extra cautious and stated that athletic teams were to remain off playing fields until further notice.

Just after 2 p.m. deputies cleared from the Old Racetrack Road area and began searching other areas of the county.

The Asheville Police Department, with the assistance of the State Highway Patrol and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office were tracking the inmate in East Asheville and thought they had found the man, but the person they captured was just a similar-looking man.

Officers said a call came in regarding a suspicious person along the interstate around 9:15 a.m. The person fled when troopers approached but was later determined not to be Rochester. He was charged with two counts of trespassing and running from officers.

Mueller said Rochester has family members living throughout the county and deputies were making contact with them to see if the escapee made contact.

Rochester's sister said he called last night to tell them he was escaping today and his mother told FOX Carolina he showed up at her house this morning to say “I love you” and that he wasn't going back to prison. His mother, Kimberly Rochester, said she was concerned her son would harm himself.

"I don't think he's really stable right now or else he wouldn't have done this, and he is capable of harming himself right now," Kimberly Rochester said. "It's like I'm watching a bad movie playing out in front of me."

She was arrested Sep. 20 on an outstanding warrant for violation of conditions of probation.

The family said they called authorities to warn them that Rochester had threatened to escape after receiving a call from him on Monday night. Family members hoped Rochester would turn himself in.

The SCDC said Rochester was sentenced to four years in prison for breaking into a motor vehicle in Cherokee County. He was due to be released in 2018.

Around 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, an SCDOC spokesperson said Rochester was apprehended in Cherokee County. They thanked SLED, and the Cherokee and Spartanburg County Sheriff's Offices for their assistance.

Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said Rochester is awaiting transfer back to the Department of Corrections after he was taken into custody without incident.

"The spirit of cooperation was awesome during the manhunt," Mueller said.

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