A convicted rapist who escaped from prison was back in custody Thursday night after people in a rural general store recognized him, tied him up and held him for state troopers, ending the inmate’s 20-hour freedom run.
James David Myers, 47, of Randolph, was found bound with twine inside the Olivesburg General Store in northeast Richland County, about 12 miles from the Mansfield Correctional Institution where he escaped late Wednesday night, authorities said.
Myers went into the store about 6:30 p.m. but was immediately recognized as the man whose face had been splashed across the news and social media during the Fourth of July holiday.
Lt. Anne Ralston of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said people inside the Olivesburg store on state Route 545 contacted authorities. When troopers arrived, they found Myers tied up in twine.
No one was injured.
The inmate was considered a significant danger.
Many connected with his case in Summit County — including the rape victim — were on edge while he remained at large.
The public was urged to call law enforcement if they saw Myers and not try to capture him.
Ralston said the capture was the culmination of a team effort by law enforcement, the prison system and local citizens.
She said she respected those in the general store who caught Myers, despite the public calls for caution.
“It’s not an ideal situation, but obviously they did what they felt they needed to do,” Ralston said.
A spokeswoman with the state prison system said she did not believe Myers committed any acts of violence during the 20 hours he was free.
How he escaped has not been revealed.
Criminal and administrative investigations were ongoing, authorities said.
During Myers’ run, his Summit County rape victim was under police protection.
Myers is serving a life sentence after he was convicted of breaking inside the woman’s former home in Springfield Township and raping her at gunpoint in July 2010.
Law enforcement officers from across Ohio worked to find Myers.
Under police protection
Meanwhile, April Wiesner, a spokeswoman for Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, said the victim, who now lives elsewhere in Summit County, was told of Myers’ escape. She was being protected at an undisclosed location until he was apprehended.
“We’ve taken measures to ensure her safety,” Wiesner said. Those measures include “24-hour police protection.”
Wednesday’s escape was on Myers’ 47th birthday. Thursday marked the third anniversary of a police report filed by the victim.
Myers denied the rape allegation. The conviction left the Randolph man angry with his accuser and his defense attorney, post-trial court records show. An appellate court said evidence of his guilt was “substantial” and they upheld his label as a sexually violent predator.
Anger with attorney
In court papers, Myers expressed anger toward his defense attorney, Reid Yoder of Akron, for what Myers perceived as poor legal representation.
In a written response mailed to Myers over his complaint to the Ohio Supreme Court’s attorney grievance counsel, Yoder defended his work.
“I realize that you are upset with the outcome of this case,” Yoder wrote to Myers. “However, I believe you know I did everything in my power to represent you to the best of my abilities.”
Yoder did not return a phone message left on his cellphone Thursday.
Myers, who last lived on Rustic Trail in Randolph, was convicted by a jury of rape, kidnapping, aggravated burglary, menacing and other charges.
Prosecutors said he stalked the woman for two days after the rape and only stopped when he was arrested near her home on a charge of drunken driving July 3.
Court records show Myers claimed he met the woman, then 45 years old, at an East Waterloo Road bar and agreed to follow her home to use cocaine.
She testified, however, that Myers wasn’t invited.
She told jurors that after leaving the bar about 1:30 a.m. July 2, 2010, she saw Myers outside her home and she fired a gun over his head as a warning for him to leave. Neighbors testified to hearing the shot.
Next, the woman said Myers suddenly appeared in her home, took her pistol during a struggle and raped her at gunpoint, according to court records.
Myers initially denied knowing the woman or ever being inside her home when questioned by Springfield police after the victim filed her complaint July 4. He later testified that he was invited to her home, but they did not have sex, records show.
The only DNA evidence connecting Myers to the woman was collected from a drinking glass and cigarette lighter inside the woman’s home.
The woman testified that she showered and washed her bedsheets after the rape to help “erase the incident from her mind,” according to an appellate court ruling upholding Myers’ convictions.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or email@example.com.