South Carolina Jail Nurse Accused of Helping Inmate Escape to Have Sex


CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. – A South Carolina jail nurse is accused of helping an inmate escape a detention center so she could have sex with him.

Katherine Heckman, 38, a nurse who works at the Chester County Detention Center, is accused of aiding Sean Lyles, 33, in his escape from the jail’s property, WSOCTV reported.

Heckman and Lyles had been having a sexual relationship for months and the nurse helped the inmate escape at least six times from the detention center in October and November, a report from the Chester County Sheriff’s Office stated.

Lyles, who was about to complete his sentence, was allowed to do jobs around the center. He was also granted permission to leave the property, investigators said.

Heckman was charged with “sexual contact with an inmate and aiding an escape from prison,” WSOCTV reported. As a result, she was booked into the detention center. However, she was subsequently released on a $22,000 bond, according to jail records.

The trysts led to further legal trouble for Lyles. He was taken to the South Carolina Department of Corrections and was charged with “two counts of escape, and attempted escape,” WCNC reported. Lyles was originally sentenced to time in the detention center for burglary charges.

Heckman is the daughter the detention center’s supervisor, Richard Odom. She has been placed on leave without pay. Odom reportedly had no knowledge of Heckman and Lyles’ relationship.

The nurse, who also worked as an EMT with Chester County, was stripped of her license and terminated from her position, WCNC reported.

“We got on this quick, as soon as we heard about it, and put an end to it,” Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood said. “This isn’t going to happen here.”

Underwood said Heckman was not an employee with the sheriff’s office but a practitioner with a company that contracts with the office to “provide medical services at the detention center,” The Herald reported.

“It’s disheartening. Seems like we’re losing ground on morals,” resident Teddy Odom said.

“I can’t imagine anybody in any town getting away with this,” resident Webbie Keels said. “I mean there should be more supervision on the top.”

Investigators say the inmate was allowed off the sheriff’s office property during the incidents and was able to return to the property, Underwood said. Command staff at the sheriff’s office is looking into security measures to determine how this happened.

“This is the first and last time,” Underwood said.

Since the investigation is ongoing, the sheriff has asked the Union County Sheriff’s Office to help with the probe.

Finally, while Lyles faces new charges for escape, perhaps “field trip” better describes his actions? Nevertheless, he’ll apparently have more custody times to ponder his next relationship.

(Photos: Chester County Detention Center)

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