A Columbia murder suspect wriggled
free of police custody Sunday by jumping out of a patrol car just yards
away from the jail but was recaptured within 30 minutes.
Kim Hayden, charged in the killing of escaped work-release inmate Sarah
Gaddist last week, somehow removed the plastic cord-like handcuffs binding
his wrists just after 6 p.m. as he was sitting in the back of a city of
Columbia patrol car, according to police.
The 24-year-old jumped out of the cruiser as it was pulling into the
entrance road of the Richland County Detention Center, police said.
"He was restrained," said Lt. Rafael Rodriguez at the escape scene off
Bluff Road. "I don't know how he managed to do that, but he did."
Police had arrested Hayden earlier in the day, Chief Charles Austin
Hayden is accused of murdering Gaddist, 22, whose body was found
Thursday off Two Notch Road. She had been strangled, according to the
Richland County coroner's office.
Gaddist was serving a three-year sentence at State Park Correctional
Institution for exploiting the elderly, said John Barkley, spokesman for
the state Department of Corrections. She walked away from a work-release
program May 21, Barkley said.
Hayden, who has no permanent address, knew Gaddist, police Capt. Steve
Conley said. The captain said physical evidence at the scene linked Hayden
to the crime. Conley would not elaborate.
The quick but intense search Sunday was reminiscent of another manhunt
in the same area just a few months ago. In March, the same stretch of
Bluff Road was the scene of the massive manhunt for John David Barnett,
suspected in a string of armed robberies. Barnett later was captured out
"It's happened two times lately in the same area," said Marion
Burnside, who parked his car beside the road to see what the commotion was
about. "I just passed by here a few minutes ago going to the store and
nothing was going on. I didn't think anything could happen that fast."
The back doors of the police car could be opened only from the outside.
But Hayden freed himself of the plastic Flexcuffs and apparently reached
out of a half-open car window, lifted the door handle and made a run for
it, Rodriguez said.
An officer, T.B. Thomas, radioed dispatchers, screaming that her
prisoner had escaped. She'd chased after him but was unable to catch up.
When other officers asked what her prisoner was charged with, she
radioed back, breathless, "Signal 32 -- murder."
That set in motion an urgent response from police officers, tracking
dogs and a search helicopter.
Within 15 minutes of Thomas' first frantic calls for help, police
rushed in with tracking dogs into the thick woods where Hayden ran.
It wasn't long before the dogs began closing in and a Richland County
deputy had Hayden back in handcuffs.
"Attention all units," came the news over the police radio. "In
reference to the escapee, county has the suspect in custody."
Hayden, his close-cropped hair littered with sticks and grass, sobbed
in the back of a patrol car after his recapture.
"It feels good to have him back into custody," Rodriguez said. "I would
have hated for him to get away. I feel bad that he was able to get out in
the first place."
Flexcuffs aren't any easier to escape from than traditional handcuffs,
"It's happened before in different departments. It's not a common
thing," Rodriguez said.