Authorities believe escaped inmates no longer in Columbia County
PORTAGE, Wis. — Authorities believe the two prisoners who escaped from a state maximum-security prison in Portage Thursday morning are no longer in Columbia County.
Police are searching for 37-year-old James Newman and 46-year-old Thomas Deering.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office issued an alert around 12:15 p.m. saying “at this point the public is no longer in danger.”
Residents in the area received automated phone calls about the prison escape around 6 a.m. Thursday.
Portage police believe the men are headed to Madison.
The Madison Police Department said all local law enforcement agencies are on alert and aware of the escape, but the department does not have any reason to suggest Newman or Deering are in the Madison area.
Authorities said the inmates scaled two security fences while escaping from the Columbia Correctional Institution.
They also believe the men went to a hotel in Portage and caught a cab to Poynette.
According to online records, Deering has convictions for kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary, battery by a prisoner and escape. Newman has convictions for kidnapping, escape, theft and discharging a firearm.
“These individuals are considered dangerous. We are asking anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of these individuals to contact law enforcement immediately,” the Department of Corrections said in a statement regarding the escape.
This is a developing situation. Watch News 3 Now on-air and check this article for the latest updates.