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Madison woman charged with role in Columbia County prison escape
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Madison woman charged with role in Columbia County prison escape

Police tracked a cell phone to help locate two men who escaped from Columbia Correctional Institution, according to a criminal complaint filed against a woman accused of helping them.

Inmates Thomas Deering and James Newman escaped from the prison April 16. They were taken into custody the next day in Illinois.

Katherine R. Wooderick, 46, of Madison, faces 12 years in prison and $20,000 in fines if convicted of two counts of being a party to an escape. She had an initial appearance via video on April 29 before Columbia County Circuit Court Judge Todd Hepler and was ordered to be held on $10,000 signature bond. She was released from jail on her own recognizance.

According to the criminal complaint, during the escape Deering and Newman were picked up by a cab at the Best Western in Portage.

They asked the cab driver to take them to Madison, but the driver took them to the Piggly Wiggly in Poynette, because she could not go beyond a 10-mile radius of Portage. Detectives watched surveillance video from the Piggly Wiggly and saw the cab arriving at 5:23 a.m. and remaining in the parking lot for 10 minutes.

At 5:33 a.m., the video showed two men exit the cab, one of whom appeared to be talking on a phone. At 5:54 a.m., a white car entered the parking lot and re-entered camera view at 5:55 a.m. to travel south on Highway 51.

A detective reported using a search warrant to follow cell tower pings to track a cell phone from the prison starting at 4:35 a.m. to the Best Western at 4:58 a.m., then the village of Poynette at 5:22 a.m. before hitting Highway 51 at 5:54 a.m. The pings appeared in Janesville at 6:46 a.m., Beloit at 6:59 a.m., a Walmart in Roscoe, Illinois from 7:14 a.m. to 7:41 a.m. before being powered off in Rockford, Illinois at 8:16 a.m.

The detective viewed video of the white car at the Walmart in Roscoe and captured numbers of the license plate, matching them to a man in Madison, near an address found on a note outside the prison. The man is related to Wooderick.

A detective spoke with Wooderick on April 24 about the vehicle and she said she leases it from the man. She also said her boyfriend is an inmate at CCI who was housed in the same unit as Deering and Newman.

The detective executed a search warrant on the car outside Wooderick’s residence in Madison and observed blood stains inside. The detective also viewed surveillance footage from Madison traffic cameras showing the vehicle going in a direction consistent with heading toward Poynette.

Wooderick has a pre-trial conference scheduled for June 1.

Follow Chris Higgins on Twitter @chris_higgins_ or contact him at 920-356-6751 and chiggins@wiscnews.com.

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