By Corey Friedman
POLKTON, N.C. — A correction officer is accused of helping a convicted killer who escaped from prison Saturday, and authorities say she had a sexual relationship with the man while he was behind bars.
Authorities on Sunday charged 33-year-old Kendra Lynette Miller in connection with Kristopher Antonio McNeil’s Saturday escape from Brown Creek Correctional Institution in Anson County, North Carolina. McNeil, 29, was captured Sunday night near Winston-Salem.
Miller faces charges including having sex with an inmate, providing an electronic device to an inmate, harboring a fugitive and aiding and abetting a fugitive. She was jailed under a $500,000 secured bond.
N.C. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker said Miller had worked as a food service officer at Brown Creek since December 2014. The Polkton Police Department, State Bureau of Investigation and Department of Public Safety investigated the escape.
“Unprofessional conduct by correctional staff will not be tolerated,” North Carolina prisons director George Solomon said in a statement. “We will pursue criminal charges and support prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”
MANHUNT AND ARREST
Several residents who spotted McNeil recognized him from news reports and called Davidson County sheriff’s deputies, who picked him up walking along Old U.S. 52 near Hickory Tree Road around the Davidson-Forsyth county line, N.C. Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Pamela Walker said. He was caught shortly before 11 p.m.
The 29-year-old fugitive was taken to the Davidson County Jail in Lexington. His custody will be transferred to state prison officials who will take him to Central Prison in Raleigh.
“We appreciate the many law enforcement agencies working closely by the department’s side working to get McNeil back in custody,” Solomon said. “We are especially grateful to the citizens who called in tips and anyone who aided in his capture without anyone getting hurt.”
Authorities said Sunday afternoon that McNeil was believed to be in Forsyth County. Prison officials, State Bureau of Investigation agents and local police and deputies fanned out across the Triad.
McNeil was discovered missing just after midnight Saturday. Officials believe he escaped by scaling the fence.
Authorities said McNeil has family and friends in Winston-Salem and they “have reason to believe” he is in Forsyth County. A statewide search for the fugitive is now concentrated on the Triad region.
McNeil was serving a 11-year to 14-year prison sentence on an October 2009 conviction of second-degree murder in Forsyth County. His projected release date was April 8, 2018.
State records show McNeil has previous convictions of possession of a firearm by a felon, assault on a public official, resisting an officer, breaking and entering vehicles, carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a BB gun or rifle on educational property, all in Forsyth County.
McNeil has been incarcerated at Brown Correctional near Polkton since November 2010, when he was transferred from Pasquotank Correctional in Elizabeth City. Prison system records show McNeil has one infraction at the Anson County prison, listed as disobeying an order on Dec. 30, 2013.
Opened in 1993, Brown Creek is a 1,204-capacity minimum-security state prison near Polkton with 373 correctional officers and support staff, according to the Department of Public Safety.
Brown Creek is adjacent to Lanesboro Correctional Institution, a close-custody, high-security prison that has been plagued by scandal in recent years. Lanesboro is a 1,400-capacity men’s prison with a staff of 514 that has been open since January 2004.
Last November, five former inmates sued the prison and state administrators alleging gangs were given free reign at Lanesboro and jailers did not safeguard inmates against assaults at the hands of other prisoners.
Later the same month, a correction officer suffered a cut to the face after officials say an inmate attacked him with a bladed weapon.
Reach Editor Corey Friedman at 910-817-2670 and follow him on Twitter @corey_friedman.