Quick-thinking agency leader recognized escapees from news, called police

ROCKFORD — Two escaped prisoners from Wisconsin are in police custody Friday morning after showing up at a Rockford area soup kitchen.


When the two men, who escaped Thursday from the Columbia Correctional Facility in Portage, Wisconsin, arrived at Miss Carly’s, a Rockford nonprofit that provides food and personal hygiene items to people in need, the organization’s leader, Carly Rice, immediately recognized them from the news and notified Rockford police.


"I trembled as I offered the two men coffee to warm them up and stall their departure," Rice posted on Miss Carly’s Facebook page. "I was so relieved when our officers showed up."


Columbia is an adult male maximum-security correctional facility operated by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. According to news reports, the two men, 37-year-old James Newman and 46-year-old Thomas Deering, had both previously escaped from other institutions and were considered dangerous.


Deering had been convicted on charges of kidnapping, burglary and multiple sexual assault charges. Newman was serving time for escape, theft and kidnapping.


"This morning, two men showed up at our door shivering, frozen, wearing prison issue sweats and thermal shirts. They had emergency blankets stuffed under their clothing. They looked just like the kind of people we want to help ... but they weren't," Rice wrote on her Facebook page.


Rice said she recognized the escaped convicts because of their crimes.


"See, my mom was homeless and she was kidnapped, raped and murdered years ago," Rice wrote. "So, these guys’ faces stuck in my memory after seeing their photos and reading about their charges."


According to police, Rice called them about the two men who showed up at her nonprofit at about 8:30 a.m. Friday.


Rockford police officers were at Miss Carly’s, 1125 Fifth Ave., "within minutes," Rice said.


The two men were placed in custody in a calm and professional manner, she added.


"They are off the streets now," she said. "I have a huge heart for the unlovable and the lost, but I will always fight to keep our city safe."


Both escaped inmates from the Columbia Correctional Facility in Portage, WI are now in custody. They arrived at Miss Carly’s and were recognized from their posted pictures. More details to follow. #rockfordilpolicedepartment

— RockfordILPolice (@RockfordPD) April 17, 2020

Corina Curry: ccurry@rrstar.com; @corinacurry