Escaped murder convict caught

Lindsay CravenStaff Writer

September 28, 2012

A man convicted in connection with the deaths of two men on a Yadkin County farm more than 30 years ago was captured Thursday, four days after escaping from a prison farm.

James Ladd, 51, was captured not too far from the Tillery Correctional Center in Halifax County, state department of corrections officials said. No other information was released about his capture.

According to a press release, Ladd was working on the prison farm on Sept. 23. He was driving a tractor outside of the prison gates and was found to be missing at 10 a.m.

“Inmates that work in minimum security have earned that privilege,” said Keith Acree, spokesperson for the North Carolina Division of Prisons. “This inmate had been in custody for 31 years. … He has been working for over seven years on the farm and has never had an incident or tried to escape until Sunday.”

Yadkin county residents were disturbed by the fact that Ladd was being held in a minimum security prison and allowed outside the prison gates.

“That really upsets me because I can remember when [those murders] happened,” said Carla Phillips, an East Bend resident. “How can you let someone who shot and killed two people for money go into a minimum security prison?”

Phillips said although she is appalled that Ladd was able to escape she is relieved to know that he is back in custody.

“I was afraid when I found out he escaped because that’s someone who’s evil,” Phillips said. “I’m very g;ad to hear that he’s been caught.”

James Ladd, 51, was sentenced to three life sentences for the murders of Johnny Henderson and David Edwards.

“Johnny and David were getting ready to load cows at Johnny’s farm, and they were going to take them down to Turnersburg,” said John Foster, a former SBI agent who worked on the case. “This boy, Ladd, had worked for Johnny before and knew that when Johnny went to a sale he carried all of his money in his bib overalls and dealt only in cash. So he waited in the barn for them to load the cows and then he shot them both with a 30/30 rifle. He took the money out of Johnny’s bib overalls and ran.”

Foster said that Ladd had borrowed the rifle from someone, returned the rifle and headed to Statesville, where he spent a large portion of the money he had stolen. Foster said that he and other agents arrested Ladd at his home just past the Yadkin County line in Iredell less than 24 hours after the crime took place.

“They moved the trial from Yadkin to Surry County because of the publicity,” Foster said. “He was tried in Surry and found guilty. He got a life sentence for each of the murders and a life sentence for the robbery.”

Johnny Henderson was the brother of Jack Henderson, the Yadkin County Sheriff at the time of the crime.

Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at lcraven@heartlandpublications.com.