Crime & Courts

Stolen 4-wheelers drew attention to men who escaped from Kansas prison

WINFIELD — Two men who escaped from a Kansas prison rode a four-wheeler along railroad tracks in frigid temperatures for most of their 600-mile journey before they were caught this week in Mississippi, investigators said.

Scott Dwyer, 40, and Wayne Purdy, 31, escaped from Winfield Correctional Facility in southern Kansas on Thanksgiving Day. They managed to make their way through Arkansas and Tennessee before ending up in northern Mississippi.

Police said the men had obtained all sorts of camping supplies, including sleeping bags, tarps and a propane cooking stove, along the way.

"They actually drove a four-wheeler through Memphis," said Jeremiah Brown, a detective with the Batesville, Miss., police department, who said the vehicle was stolen from northern Arkansas.

Something about two men on a four-wheeler in frigid temperatures didn't sit right with a Batesville police officer who spotted the two early Monday.

"He asked them what they were doing on a four-wheeler at 3 a.m. in the middle of winter," Brown said.

He said the men told the officer a "rather suspicious" story before taking off along the railroad tracks and fleeing into the woods.

Batesville police arrested Dwyer on Wednesday afternoon after receiving a report about a man who walked out of the woods and asked for food. Brown said Dwyer told authorities that he was an orphan who didn't know when his birthday was or whether he had a Social Security number.

Mississippi officials discovered his name and that he was wanted in Kansas when they ran his fingerprints. Brown said he stuck with his story about being a drifter until he was shown a flier from Kansas with his picture on it.

Purdy was arrested Thursday after someone saw him at a Walmart store in Granada, about 35 miles south of Batesville.

Neither Mississippi police department said it plans to file charges against the men, who were being returned to Kansas. Brown said Arkansas authorities indicated they would press charges against the two over the theft of the four-wheeler.

Officials at Winfield Correctional Facility said the men, both of whom have long criminal histories, will not be returned to minimum security anytime soon.