Prison officials never knew he was gone.
And after they were tipped to the late-night trip, officials confirmed Monday, they had to verify the escape by viewing the store's surveillance camera system — which was much better than the one the prison has.
Authorities said they were investigating reports that Skyler Steddum, 19, might have made as many as 70 such shopping trips from Sugar Land's Central Unit, where he was a trusty in a part of the prison without fences.
It was the latest security breach in Texas prisons since officials promised improved security 16 months ago, after a death-row convict used a smuggled cell phone to call a state senator.
"He went out on Tuesday. We didn't find out about it until Friday night, when somebody inside the prison snitched him off," said John Moriarty, inspector general for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, who is overseeing the investigation. "He bought smokeless tobacco and cigarettes. I don't know how much."
This incident provides a security rationale for arguing the Central Unit should be closed, in addition to the economic ones I've discussed in the past.
Breaking out and back into prison 70 times - that's got to approach some kind of record