Inmate Who Escaped South Carolina Prison 40 Years Ago, Arrested in Delaware

escaped inmate found more than 40 years later

escaped inmate found more than 40 years later

An inmate who escaped from a prison work crew more than 40 years ago was finally apprehended by authorities this week in Delaware, officials said.

Jose Chico Romero, 63, was arrested in Dover on Dec. 28 on charges of public intoxication and trespassing, Dover police said. When asked for his name, Romero identified himself as Arnaldo Figueroa, and gave officials a fake Delaware identification card that displayed that same name. He was processed and then released under that name.

However, two days after his arrest, the Delaware State Bureau of Identification found Romero's fingerprints actually belonged to an inmate who was wanted on an escape charge out of South Carolina from 1979. Police arrested Romero again in Dover on New Year's Day.

Romero, who was convicted of armed robbery was serving an 18 year sentence when he escaped from the Anderson County Stockade on Dec. 13, 1979, the South Carolina Department of Corrections said. He was being held at a building that was used to house short-term local inmates and SCDC inmates who were assigned to work in the county.

Romero is currently being held at Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown, Delaware until his extradition to South Carolina, police said. Once he returns to the state, he'll be required to serve out the remainder of his original sentence, which is about seven years, and another 10-15 years for his escape conviction.

"He definitely would've been out by now and hopefully would've gone on to a productive life and take advantage of some of the programs we have at SCDC," says Bryan Stirling, SCDC director. "But he decided he wanted to walk away and now he's looking at some substantial time."

Photo: South Carolina Department of Corrections