MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Two inmates who escaped from a Kentucky jail earlier this month are on a cross-country crime spree and have now been linked to two abductions, the latest being a 44-year-old South Carolina woman, authorities say.
The escaped inmates also are suspects in the abduction of a Kentucky man as well as a burglary here and numerous car thefts, police said.
"These guys have been hopscotching around the country in different stolen vehicles," said Horry County police Detective Todd Cox.
A videotape confirmed Alice Louise Donovan, of Galivants Ferry, was abducted Thursday from a Wal-Mart parking lot in Conway.
Authorities have not found Donovan or her BMW, said Special Agent Marty Williams of the FBI's Evansville, Ind., office.
Branden L. Basham, 21, of Hopkins County, Ky., and Chadrick E. Fulks, 25, of Logan County, Ky., escaped from the Hopkins County Detention Center on Nov. 4, authorities said. Basham was serving a five-year sentence for passing bad checks and Fulks was awaiting trial on robbery charges, authorities said.
The inmates also are suspected of abducting James Hawkins, 42, of Hanson, Ky., after asking him for a ride. The two men brandished a knife, stole Hawkins' vehicle and left him strapped to a tree in rural Indiana, Williams said.
Hawkins freed himself after 16 hours of being bound with duct tape and electrical cord to the tree, authorities said.
As Donovan's family passed out fliers with her photo, police said her ATM card had been used in Little River and near Raleigh, N.C., late Thursday and Friday.
Police don't know whether she is being held captive.
"She could be tied to a tree or she could be in the trunk of a car. We just don't know," Horry County police Detective Tony Collins said.
The abduction occurred about 45 minutes after the escapees shot at a local man who interrupted a burglary at his son's mobile home in rural Horry County, police said.
Carl Jordan said he tried to block in a green minivan with his truck when he saw the robbery in progress. But a man saw him and fired a pistol, shattering one of the windows on his truck.
Jordan said he sped away and the men chased him before eventually turning. Then Jordan turned around and tried to follow the minivan, he said.
"I was scared, but doggone it, they were messing with my stuff," Jordan told The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News.
Police said the escapees took the minivan after abandoning Hawkins' truck near Gary, Ind. The minivan was found in rural Horry County and authorities also found a stolen truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Police think the truck was taken after the minivan was dumped.
Police aren't sure why the men came here, but at least one of the escapees has an outstanding warrant in Horry County.
Police didn't connect the abduction and the burglary until Saturday.
"We had all the pieces, but we didn't know we had a puzzle until we put them together," Collins said. "Then we realized how bizarre the whole thing was."
Basham and Fulks do not have any violent offenses on their record, said Detective Sgt. Carolyn Boyd of the Kentucky State Police's Madisonville post.
The men escaped by climbing over a fence in the recreation yard after diverting a surveillance camera by hitting it with a basketball, Boyd said.