Escaped inmates scaled 2 security fences, took cab to Poynette

Two inmates who escaped from Columbia Correctional Institution climbed over two security fences and took a cab to Poynette, the sheriff's office says.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office and the Portage Police Department were dispatched to CCI just before 5:00 a.m. Thursday after the inmates, Thomas E. Deering, 45, and James Robert Newman, 36, escaped.

The sheriff says both men were housed in the maximum security section of the prison. Sheriff Roger Brandner says he is unaware of any other successful escape from CCI in the past, although there have been attempts.

The sheriff's office says law enforcement conducted a neighborhood search using drones and K9 units as soon as they were on scene.

Sheriff Brandner says they quickly found out Newman and Deering went to a local hotel and were picked up by a cab, then dropped off in Poynette.

The inmates have not been found yet.

The Columbia County Sheriff's Office is getting help from the Portage Police Department, the Poynette Police Department, FBI, U.S. Marshal's Office, Department of Justice - Division of Criminal Investigations and the Wisconsin State Patrol. The sheriff says CCI is fully cooperating with the investigation.

It was originally thought the inmates had traveled outside of Columbia County, possibly into the Madison area.

Deering had escaped from the Waupun Correctional Institution in October of 2002.

According to court records, Newman also escaped from a correctional facility in 2012.

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UPDATE (WKOW) -- The two escaped inmates from the Columbia Correctional Institution appear to be going toward the Madison area, according to the Portage Police Department.

Police said the escape happened just before 5 a.m.

Thomas Deering and James Newman left CCI. They are not believed to be in the city of Portage.


PORTAGE (WKOW) -- Authorities in Portage are asking residents to lock their doors after two inmates escaped from Columbia Correctional Institution

According to an alert sent by Portage police early Thursday morning, people need to stay home and call 911 if they see anyone suspicious.

The men they are looking for are Thomas Deering (left) and James Newman (right). They have both been convicted for violent crimes, according to online court records.

No other information is available at this time. Stay with 27 News for the latest updates on this developing story.

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