HURON — An inmate considered armed and dangerous who escaped from the Regional Correction Center in Huron has been captured in Sioux Falls.
Charles Leroy Beeney, 45, was taken into custody by Minnehaha County deputies Tuesday evening. Authorities in Sioux Falls had followed up on at least two tip calls for arresting him at about 6:40 p.m., about 18 hours after his escape, according to Sioux Falls media reports.
Huron law enforcement authorities had believed that Beeney, a Kansas man with a lengthy prison record and a history of attempted and successful breakouts, had left the area after escaping from jail by threatening to kill a guard.
Minnehaha County deputies found the vehicle he was believed to be in, a pickup truck stolen from a residence east of Huron.
“It’s not the first time he’s stolen a vehicle, it’s not the first time he’s escaped so I assume he’s long gone,” Beadle County Sheriff Doug Solem said.
Beeney has spent more than 20 years of his life behind bars and was awaiting sentencing for felony aggravated eluding after an arrest near Alpena. He had been incarcerated in the Regional Correction Center since Dec. 3. Solem said he had not caused any problems in jail.
The inmate was out of his cell and mopping the floor when he called out to a jailer, saying, “Come here, I found something,” the sheriff said.
When the jailer approached Beeney, he was handed a .45-caliber live round and the inmate said he had another bullet in a weapon he was holding.
He then stuck the homemade weapon in the guard’s stomach and threatened to kill him if he didn’t do what he wanted. He took the guard downstairs to another guard and said, “Let me out of here or I will kill him.”
At his orders, they gave him his personal clothing from a jail locker before letting him out of the facility.
The guards did not get a good look at the makeshift weapon, but authorities found evidence in Beeney’s cell that indicates it might have been fashioned from a metal tube and rubber bands.
The weapon may or may not have worked, but Solem said the guards were right to comply with Beeney’s demands.
The sheriff likens it to tellers being threatened in a bank robbery.
“If they walk into a bank and they stick a gun in your face they do what they’re trained to do,” Solem said.
“It’s a good thing at the end of the day that everybody goes home safe,” he said. “It’s not a good situation, but all of our people are safe.”
Authorities used the emergency notification system to alert the public that an inmate considered to be armed and dangerous had escaped from jail and to lock their doors. Police dispatchers fielded a number of calls reporting suspicious activity. Schools also went on lockdown. (See related story.)
Beeney’s latest run-in with the law began in North Dakota when he stole a pickup truck from a car dealership in Bismarck.
He led law enforcement officers from five counties and the Highway Patrol on a chase before he crashed the vehicle in a field west of Alpena in Jerauld County.
He pleaded guilty to aggravated eluding Dec. 27 and a presentence investigation was then ordered. The maximum penalty is two years in the state penitentiary and a $4,000 fine.
Solem said authorities were notified Tuesday morning of the theft of a truck from a farm east of Huron along Highway 14.
Meanwhile, Huron police received a report of three rifles and a pistol stolen from a car in northeast Huron, but don’t think the case is related. The guns were taken sometime between Sunday and Tuesday morning.
At one point, officers were very close to catching Beeney in an area behind Fastenal in the 300 block of Market Street Southwest near the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks.
But Beeney dodged under a rail car and disappeared into the area of Huron Culvert and Tank.
“They continued to search and brought out thermal imaging equipment looking through the area, but couldn’t find him,” Solem said. When he escaped from jail, Beeney traveled directly east.
Early in the morning, a resident about a half block east of the correction center on Fourth Street Southwest found a pair of inmate tennis shoes and a makeshift knife made out of a pencil and the tip of a pen. Also found was the top of an inmate’s jail clothes, but not the bottoms. The makeshift gun was also not found. The area was between a house and garage and was likely where he changed into his street clothes, which included blue jeans, a black coat and boots.
Beeney was involved in a chase with law enforcement officers in North Dakota in December 2005. He was caught and booked into the Richland County Jail, but escaped later that month by using an iron post he apparently had wrenched from a piece of furniture to overwhelm a jailer.
He stole a pickup from a farm and went on the lam for about 16 hours before he was caught.
In January 2006, Beeney was sentenced to five years in the North Dakota State Penitentiary in Bismarck. In June 2010 he made an unsuccessful escape attempt, less than two months before his scheduled release.
He faced only prison discipline for the attempted escape and was released on schedule because he was wanted in Kansas for violating parole on felony convictions including aggravated robbery, according to Tom Tausend, a spokesman for the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Kansas Department of Corrections records show Beeney returned to Kansas and served about eight months in a state prison in Lansing before he was paroled again in April 2011. He absconded from parole last November and was in Bismarck a month later.
Beeney is a white man who is 5-feet, 11-inches tall and about 160 pounds. When he escaped, he had shoulder-length brown hair, a goatee and tattoos on his arms.
(North Dakota Associated Press writer Blake Nicholson contributed to this story.)For the complete article see the 01-09-2013 issue.
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