Alleged Getaway Driver Charged in Southern Wisconsin Jailbreak

Katherine R. Wooderick
Columbia County sheriff's office

A 46-year-old Madison woman has been charged as the alleged getaway driver who helped two inmates escape from a southern Wisconsin jail to northern Illinois in mid-April.

Katherine R. Wooderick allegedly picked up the inmates at a Poynette Piggly Wiggly after they escaped the Columbia Correctional Institution with the aid of a kitchen employee, the Columbia County Sheriff Roger Brandner said in a statement.

Wooderick was arrested Tuesday and charged with with two counts of “escape as party to a crime,” Brandner said.

The inmates, James Newman and Thomas Deering, allegedly escaped April 16 after climbing over two security fences, Brandner said.

The pair was arrested the next day in Rockford after the owner of a homeless shelter recognized them from wanted photos. They were still wearing their prison-issue clothes.

“They looked just like the kind of people we want to help….but they weren’t. I recognized them right away,” the owner of the shelter, Miss Carly’s, said in a Facebook post after the arrests.

Deering was convicted in 2000 with sexual assault, burglary, kidnapping, according to online records. He also faced an escape charge in 2002 and a battery in prison charge in 2015. Newman was convicted in 2016 with kidnapping, escape and burglary.

Deputies also charged Holly M. Zimdahl, 46, with aiding in their escape, Brandner said. Zimdahl worked as a civilian kitchen worker at the prison.

The investigation into the escape is ongoing, and that more arrests are possible, Brandner said.

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