Published September 25, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. – There was no sign of a convicted killer two days after he walked away from his tractor outside a prison farm in rural North Carolina.
Officers were still searching for James J. Ladd, 51, a Halifax County Sheriff's Department dispatcher said early Tuesday.
Authorities used a helicopter and bloodhounds Monday to hunt Ladd a day after he was discovered missing from a minimum security prison in a rural area more than an hour's drive east of Raleigh.
A tractor that Ladd had been operating was found abandoned in a field outside the Tillery Correctional Center on Sunday morning.
Ladd, 51, was serving three life sentences for the 1980 robbery and shooting deaths of two men in Yadkin County.
He had been a reasonably well-behaved inmate, according to records, with no infractions listed for violent behavior while in prison. Still, officials warned anyone who comes in contact with Ladd to steer clear and call 911.
Convicted of double first-degree murder, Ladd became eligible for parole after serving 30 years but was denied release in January 2011, according to records. His next parole review is scheduled for 2014.
Public Safety Department spokeswoman Pamela Walker said it was unclear how long Ladd had been missing before prison staff noticed the abandoned tractor around 10 a.m. Sunday.
A public statement about the missing inmate was not issued for more than five hours.
Records show Ladd is the seventh North Carolina inmate to escape in 2012. All the others have been recaptured. The last two inmates who escaped Tillery, in December 2007, were apprehended two days later in South Carolina.
The last convicted murderer to escape, 47-year-old Martin Pedron, also absconded from Tillery. Pedron is still at large, according to records.
Ladd is white with blue eyes, graying hair and a beard, though authorities said he may have shaved since his escape. He stands 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 140 pounds. He was last seen wearing green pants and a white t-shirt, but may also have a pair of black pants.