• 70°

Inmate escapes Polk jail; recaptured after carjacking

Inmate escapes Polk jail; recaptured after carjacking
Escapee wanted on 77 S.C. warrants
by Leah Justice
A Polk County Jail inmate who escaped Monday night has been recaptured after a carjacking and wreck early Tuesday morning in Spartanburg County, S.C.
Dennis Paul Elliott, 52, of 964 Iron Ore Road, Spartanburg, will face numerous charges following Mondays escape. He also faces 77 outstanding warrants in South Carolina.
Around 8:05 p.m. Monday, Elliott, a Polk County Jail “trustee” on work detail, walked away from the facility. Elliott was wearing a green and white inmate suit with “Polk County Inmate” written across the back.
It is unknown where he stayed Monday night, but officials say around daybreak Tuesday, he stole a car at gunpoint from a woman just outside Columbus who was leaving her home for work. Polk County Sheriff Donald Hill says Elliott showed a gun and told the woman to exit her vehicle and she did. The woman was reportedly not injured.
Elliott then fled in the stolen red 2009 Kia Sportage toward Spartanburg, chased by both Polk County and Spartanburg County deputies.
On Bible Church Road in the Boiling Springs area he took a curve too fast and flipped the car four times, Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright reported. A woman driving her four children to school in a Chevy Surburban pulled off the road to avoid a collision, but she was struck by both the Kia and the car driven by Spartanburg County Deputy Blake Simpson. No major injuries were reported from the three-vehicle crash. Sheriff Chuck Wright said he is thankful for carseats; an 18-month-old was one of the four children involved in the crash.
Elliott was thrown from the Kia and was transported to a local hospital, where as of yesterday he was in the custody of the Spartanburg County Sheriffs Office while waiting to be transported to jail.
Sheriff Hill and Sheriff Wright held a press conference yesterday at the Polk County Jail. Hill said he is very disappointed about the escape. He has placed two jail officers on unpaid leave and says he is personally investigating the incident.
This is the second escape Hill has dealt with. Last March, inmate Steven Taylor escaped the Polk County Courthouse when he was awaiting his sentence. Taylor was captured and is now serving time at the N.C. Department of Corrections.
“Obviously Im not happy,” Sheriff Hill said. “I apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate all the assistance from Sheriff Wright. The whole time I was concerned and didnt want anybody to get hurt.”
Hill says it is unknown exactly how Elliott escaped or how he obtained a gun. A handgun allegedly used in the carjacking was found outside the wreckage Tuesday.
“If inmates can escape from Alcatraz, they can escape from the Polk County Jail or anywhere,” Sheriff Wright said. He stressed the escape was Elliotts decision and not Hills fault.
Elliott was serving a 90-day sentence in Polk County with about 30 days left to serve when he escaped Monday, Sheriff Hill said. Elliott had no criminal history in Polk County, but has a list of outstanding warrants in South Carolina.
Elliott will be charged by Polk County officials with robbery with a dangerous weapon, escape from local jail, larceny of firearm, possession of a firearm by a felon, assault by pointing a gun, assault on a female, injury to personal property and misdemeanor larceny.
When Wright was asked by reporters what injuries Elliott suffered in the crash, Wright responded, “Not enough.”
Wright said Elliott will first be transported to the Spartanburg County Detention Center, where he will face charges including failure to stop for blue light, possession of a firearm by a felon and reckless driving.
Elliotts outstanding warrants in South Carolina are listed below:
12 counts of Burglary 1st Degree
12 counts of Burglary 2nd Degree
13 counts of Fraudulent Checks
6 counts of Petit Larceny
3 counts of Obtaining Money by False Pretense
1 count of Assault & Battery High and Aggravated Nature
1 count of Possession of Burglary Tools
1 count of Malicious Injury to Property
1 count of Safecracking
2 counts of Failure to Stop for Blue Lights
1 count of Forgery
2 counts of Possession of Stolen Property
1 count of Fugitive from Justice