A woman who escaped custody outside the Macon County Courthouse on Tuesday after being sentenced to jail was arrested Thursday, along with a man who allegedly helped her hide out.
Kaitlin Fitzgibbons, 28, ran as she was being escorted to a transport vehicle bound for the Macon County Detention Center.
Fitzgibbons was found Thursday in a residence off Arthur Drake Road in Franklin, according to Macon County Sheriff Robert Holland.
Authorities also arrested Tony Owens for allegedly harboring the fugitive.
“I spoke with Superior Court Judge Robert Coward and was ordered to bring those two suspects before the judge [Friday] morning to set bond,” Holland said.
On Tuesday, Fitzgibbons appeared in superior court on a count of felony larceny and asked for the case to be continued. Coward refused the request and sentenced her to four months in jail.
“She had been arrested the day before this incident occurred,” Holland said. “She made bond and appeared in court on previous charges.
“We handcuffed her in front because of safety issues for her,” Holland said. “As they exited the courthouse, the detention officer was carrying some of her belongings. As he went toward the van to unlock the door, she bolted. She just outran him.”
Holland said he changed the handcuff policy in the wake of her escape. All subjects being transported from the courthouse will now be handcuffed in back and will be wearing leg shackles, he said.
Holland pointed out that Fitzgibbons was not considered an inmate at the time of her escape.
“She had come from her home to court,” he said.
After Fitzgibbons ran, deputies established a perimeter, but she managed to elude them.
“About an hour into the search, she was spotted down on Riverview Street near Depot Street,” Holland said. “An FPD [Franklin Police Department] officer spotted her and she fled into a wooded area going toward Arthur Drake Road. We were unable to locate her in the dark, heavily wooded area.”
The search involved officers from the sheriff’s office, Franklin police, NC Wildlife and the State Highway Patrol.
Fitzgibbons has a lengthy criminal record.
In October she was charged with felony counts of larceny and possession of stolen goods. In February she was charged with felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and felony possession of stolen goods.
In April 2018 she was charged with felony possession of meth and three misdemeanor drug-related charges. And in April 2017 she was charged with felony possession of meth.
“She really dug herself a hole to do this,” Holland said. “She would have been out in no time.”
Holland said he will immediately ask county commissioners to fund construction of a secure area called a sally port for more secure transfers.
“There needs to be a sally port, a fenced-in area that is secured where we’re able to transport people to and from court in a safe manner to eliminate the opportunity for them to run from the courthouse,” he said.