UPDATE, Jan. 6, 3:15 P.M.: Well, that didn't take long. According to a story on the KABC website, Orange County Sheriff's deputies captured William Scott Woodin at a park in Lake Forest yesterday. That makes Woodin's spectacularly easy journey through a jail kitchen window to freedom one of the fastest round-trips imaginable. Specifically, according to an Orange County Register story today, deputies busted Woodin at the park just over 24 hours after he escaped. Given that he faces a year in prison for the stunt, hopefully it was worth it.
ORIGINAL POST, Jan. 5, 3:30 P.M.: With a maximum population of just over 3000 prisoners, Theo Lacy Jail is the county's largest detention facility. It houses a range of inmates, from convicted murderers awaiting transfer to state prison to non-violent drug offenders. One of those inmates, William Scott Woodin, was assigned to a kitchen work detail yesterday evening, but now he now has another job title: escape artist.
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Specifically, Woodin climbed through a kitchen window at about 6 p.m. Wednesday evening and disappeared, becoming the first such inmate to escape from custody that anyone can remember.
According to Jim Amormino, an Orange County Sheriff's spokeman, Woodin was busted by Irvine cops back in October when he tried to steal a watch from a Nordstrom store. Because Woodin was a non-violent offender, he qualified to work kitchen duty in the minimum-security area of Theo Lacy. And by minimum, we mean non-existent. Turns out that all Woodin had to do to bust free was break the tempered glass of a small, floor-level window of the kitchen where he was working yesterday evening.
"He was last seen at about 4 p.m.," Amormino told the Weekly. "About an hour-and-a-half later, a cook noticed the window was broken." Apparently, Woodin had placed a small bench in front of the broken window to mask his exit. He made his way across the street from the jail to a Carls Jr. restaurant, where he was spotted by a patron there; cops later found his tissue-paper chef's hat and jail smock in some nearby shrubbery.
Police dogs traced his scent to the intersection of Trask Ave. and Newhope St. in Garden Grove, where, says Amormino, he presumably caught a ride. Given that Woodin has past ties to both Newport Beach and Tuscon, Arizona, according to an Orange County Register story that ran today, the search area's getting wider by the minute. According to Amormino, Woodin, who'd already served two months of his yearlong sentence for stealing the watch, now faces an additional year in prison for skipping on KP duty.