Armed escapee who carjacked a woman on the run in Western NC, officials say

Blake Rochester and an image of a search team on Tuesday. WSPA images
Blake Rochester and an image of a search team on Tuesday. WSPA images

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – Asheville police say they have spotted a suspicious person on I-40 West near exit 55 that matches the description of the Spartanburg County escaped inmate.

Other local media outlets have reported that he was captured in East Asheville. But, police say he wasn’t. It was someone else who matched his description.

Blake Rochester in a photo from WSPA
Blake Rochester in a photo from WSPA

Blake Rochester, 25, escaped Livesay Correctional Institution in Spartanburg Tuesday morning, according to the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDOC). Rochester remained at large as of Wednesday.

The Asheville Police Department, with the help of the State Highway Patrol and Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, are actively tracking Rochester.

Deputies searched for hours Tuesday on Union Highway and Old Race Track Road in Cherokee Co.

Investigators say Rochester carjacked a woman on Magnolia Street in Spartanburg around 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

The carjacking victim was punched several times in the chest and taken to Mary Black Hospital and has since been released, Spartanburg police say.

The SCDOC believes that Rochester is armed.

They say someone placed a 9 millimeter handgun near a wooded area in Cherokee County for him.

Authorities followed tracks but didn’t find the gun, so they think he has it now.

Rochester was sentenced to nearly five years for breaking into a motor vehicle in Cherokee County, according to the SCDOC.

Prison officials noticed Rochester missing when they did a check at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Rochester has tattoos on his neck, forearm, right leg and praying hands on his upper arm, the SCDOC says.

If you have any information on Rochester’s whereabouts, please call 877-349-2130. There is a reward for information leading to his arrest.

Rochester has a lengthy criminal record, according to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division background check.

He has convictions for the following:

2008 – Public Disorderly Conduct

2008 – Malicious Injury to Personal Property > $1000 but < $5000

2008 – Open Container of Beer/ Wine

2009 – Public Disorderly Conduct

2009 – Assault/ Simple Assault and Battery

2009 – Reckless Driving

2009 – Minor/ Purchasing or Possession Alcohol Liquors

2009 – Public Disorderly Conduct

2009 – Public Disorderly Conduct

2009 – Minor/ Purchasing or Possession Alcohol Liquors

2010 – Malicious Injury to Personal Property > $1000 but < $5000

2010 – Receiving Stolen Goods > $1000 but < $5000

2013 – Assault and Battery 3rd Degree

2015 – Possession < 1 Gram of Meth or Cocaine Base 1st

2015 – Unlawful carrying of weapon

2016 – Driving under suspension

2016 – 6 counts of Breaking into Auto/Tanks where fuel stored

2016 – Violation of Probation

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