Man arrested in SC nearly 30 years after NC jail escape

James Edward Coe, 71 (WBTW)

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – A man who escaped a North Carolina prison some 30 years ago was arrested Sunday morning in Surfside Beach after reportedly stealing a piece of jewelry from a flea market.

According to an incident report from Horry County Police, 71-year-old James Edward Coe was detained by Surfside Beach Police Sunday around 11 a.m. after he stole a piece of jewelry from a vendor at Hudson’s Flea Market and then sold the item to another merchant.

When officers questioned Coe, he explained he did not have a state identification. Coe’s information came back for a wanted suspect out of North Carolina pursuant to a prison escape from June 1986. North Carolina Department of Corrections sent Horry County Police a black and white photo of Coe, which officers used to positively identify the 71-year-old.

Coe was serving an approximate five-year sentence after being convicted on two counts of receiving stolen goods in connection with cases in Forsyth and Stokes Counties in April 1984 before his escape about two years later, according to court records.

Coe was booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center Sunday afternoon on one fugitive charge. Coe was denied bond Monday and is expected to be extradited back to North Carolina, according to Horry County Police.

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