Some alert folks inside the 173-year-old Olivesburg General Store yesterday evening helped authorities capture a rapist who had escaped Wednesday from the Mansfield Correctional Institution.
When State Highway Patrol troopers arrived at the store at about 6:40 p.m. yesterday, they found James David Myers tied up with twine.
Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston said she wouldn’t necessarily recommend detaining a violent criminal without the help of police, but Myers’ capture couldn’t have happened without an “aware public.”
“We are thankful he is back in custody,” she said.
Myers, 47, was discovered missing from the prison after a head count at 9 p.m. Wednesday, authorities said. He walked into the general store, about 8 miles northeast of the prison, last evening. People inside recognized him and called 911 just before 6:20 p.m., Ralston said.
She did not know exactly how the people in the store subdued him.
Prison officials would not say how Myers escaped from the prison, which is about 25 miles south of Norwalk. It mostly houses close-security inmates, a notch below maximum security.
Myers, who is classified as a sexually violent predator, was serving a sentence of 30 years to life.
He was convicted in 2010 of following a 45-year-old Akron-area woman home from a bar, then breaking into her house and raping her at gunpoint, according to The Plain Dealer newspaper of Cleveland. He was arrested in his car near the woman’s house the next day.
Myers, of Randolph, Ohio, was convicted in Summit County Common Pleas Court on two counts of rape, kidnapping, corrupting another with drugs, illegal possession of a firearm, aggravated burglary and menacing by stalking.
JoEllen Smith, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, said the prison, which houses about 2,500 inmates, was operating under stepped-up security Thursday, with escorts required each time an inmate was moved.
Authorities said a Tallmadge, Ohio, woman listed as Myers’ victim was put under law-enforcement protection while investigators tried to find the missing inmate. Ralston said yesterday that she didn’t know if the protection remained in place after Myers was recaptured.
Myers worked in the prison’s maintenance area. Warden Terry Tibbals wouldn’t comment on the types of equipment or tools Myers might have been able to access. He also wouldn’t discuss whether Myers previously tried to escape.
The facility hadn’t had an escape since December 2011, Smith said.
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