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In a case strikingly similar to the escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat in upstate New York, convicted murderer Kristopher Antonio McNeil escaped a North Carolina prison with the help of a prison worker and was captured Sunday night, authorities said Sunday.
McNeil, 29, was discovered missing Saturday morning from Brown Creek Correctional Institute in Polkton, about 40 miles southeast of Charlotte, the state Department of Public Safety said Sunday afternoon. Investigators expanded their search area Sunday from Winston-Salem, where McNeil has family, east to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.
McNeil was behind bars again late Sunday night after witnesses identified him from media reports walking along a highway road near the Davidson-Forsyth county line. He was captured just before 11 p.m. Sunday, police said.
"We are especially grateful to the citizens who called in tips and anyone who aided in his capture without anyone getting hurt," state Prisons Director George Solomon said Sunday.
A prison food service worker, Kendra Lynette Miller, 33, was charged Sunday with aiding and abetting a fugitive, harboring a fugitive and having sex with an inmate, all of them felonies, and providing an electronic device to an inmate, the public safety agency said. Anson County court records indicated that the electronic device Miller allegedly gave to McNeil was a cellphone.
Miller was being held in the Anson County jail in lieu of $500,000 bail pending a July 7 hearing.
"Unprofessional conduct by correctional staff will not be tolerated," Solomon said. "We will pursue criminal charges and support prosecution to the fullest extent of the law."
McNeil, who was convicted in 2007 of second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, was scheduled to be released in 2018. State penal records show he has a long and occasionally violent criminal history, including convictions for assaulting a public official, breaking and entering, resisting arrest and carrying a concealed weapon.