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Escaped South Carolina hospital inmate accused in killings caught

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - An escaped South Carolina mental hospital inmate charged with the 2006 murders of his mother and stepfather was captured in Tennessee on Friday, police said.

Jason Mark Carter, 39, drove away from the G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital in Columbia on Thursday in a state-owned van. He was captured without incident early Friday at a hotel west of Nashville, the Tennessee Highway Patrol said.

Carter had since 2010 held a paid job in a patient work program that allowed him to drive in a van with a staff member outside the locked hospital fence to deliver supplies, said Mark Binkley, deputy director for administration at the South Carolina state Mental Health Department.

The program has been suspended pending a department review, Binkley said. "We will go where the facts lead us and where we find that someone was not doing their job, there will be disciplinary action," he said Friday.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol said it appeared Carter stole the van and later purchased a Chevrolet Lumina. He had checked into the hotel where he was found, but it was unclear how he got money to buy a car or pay for the room.

Binkley said the state-owned van has not been recovered. The department had never had an escape from the criminal facility before, he said.

Carter was committed to the hospital after a judge in 2009 found him not guilty by reason of insanity in the murders of Kevin and Debra Ann Perkins, his stepfather and mother, said Rosemary Littleton, spokeswoman for the state's 10th Judicial Circuit Court.

Captain Greg Reed, head of criminal investigations for the Oconee County Sheriff's Office, said Carter's mother and stepfather were "well to do."

Deputies in March 2006 had found Carter inside a locked room in the basement of a home with the couple's bodies, which were wrapped in plastic, Reed said. They had been shot and the bodies had been in the room for a couple of days, he said. No motive was established for the deaths.

(Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Andrew Hay)

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