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January 15, 2014

MAKING TRACKS

THOMASVILLE — A Thomas County Jail inmate's Tuesday escape does not appear to be a spur-of-the-moment thing.

The escapee, Charles Linwood Nix, was equipped with a change of clothes, a cell phone and even rain gear.

Nix, wearing a white uniform, was on a kitchen work detail about 7:15 a.m. preparing food for Georgia Pines. After helping load food into the Georgia Pines van, Nix ran.

Thomas County Sheriff's Office personnel soon learned Nix might have been making plans to wear a dark-blue jail uniform under his white clothing.

"When we found him, he had on a different pair of pants from the white," Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell said Wednesday.

Senior Capt. Ron James, jail administrator, said it also appeared Nix was seeking escape help from someone on the outside, possibly a girlfriend.

Sheriff's office personnel, Thomasville police, canine units from state prisons at Valdosta and Leesburg, the Georgia Department of Corrections, Georgia State Patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Squad began a search that ended 14 hours later in woods off Glenwood Drive.

Dogs tracked Nix northwest to railroad tracks behind a housing project next to the jail.

Found alongside the tracks were a white jail uniform and a black plastic garbage bag it is believed the inmate used to protect himself from rain at the time of the escape.

It was soon learned he had taken a cell phone belonging to a woman employed by a private food service that prepares meals in the jail kitchen.

The escapee was tracked to Remington Avenue, the Stewart Street area, to the edge of Laurel Hill Cemetery and to Hadley Street.

Meanwhile, E-911 issued an alert about the escape via telephone to residents.

About 10:30 a.m., a resident of the Margaret Street area reported seeing a man fitting the description of the escapee running near her house. The man was wearing dark pants and a white top.

Nix was then tracked to behind an East Jackson Street business.

"That's where we sort of lost the track," said sheriff's office patrol Capt. Chuck McDonald.

A briefing took place, and leads and tips were followed up.

The sheriff's office thermal-imaging equipment was used, and a GSP helicopter picked up heat sources.

On Tuesday night, Nix knocked on the door at the North Pinetree Boulevard residence of a woman he knew and called her name.

The woman knew Nix was an escapee and called 911. Nix ran.

Another resident saw him run into woods. Marshals used a heat-detecting device to locate Nix in woods off Glenwood.

Nix, who is securely incarcerated at the jail, should not have been assigned to a work detail, the sheriff said.

"He was not properly classified," Powell explained.

Nix was arrested on a parole violation in an assault conviction. After he was in jail, he was charged with aggravated child molestation, which would have put the inmate in a classification that would have prevented his being on a work detail.

"It was human error. Unfortunately, he was improperly classified," Powell said.

In addition to the other charges, Nix is now charged with escape, theft of the cell phone and firearm possession by a convicted felon in connection with another incident.

Nix was living in Thomasville at the time of his parole-violation arrest. He also recently resided in the Grady/Decatur County area, said Sgt. Pascal Autry, sheriff's office investigator.

Powell said the public helped law enforcement by reporting sightings of the escapee.

"We're so thankful for all the support we had," the sheriff said. "Everybody joined and helped us search. We pretty much had the town locked down."

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.

 

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