2 boys who escaped Concord development center captured

CONCORD, N.C. — Authorities said two juveniles who escaped from a Concord youth development center were captured Tuesday.

According to officials, Christopher H. and Mikal M. escaped from Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center and were last seen at around 2:45 p.m. Sunday. Stonewall Jackson is a correctional facility for young people run by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Christopher and Mikal

(Christopher and Mikal)

On Monday morning, state officials told Channel 9 they thought the pair may be in the Black Mountain area near Asheville. Later Monday afternoon, they said the two boys may be in the Hickory area.

Imani Rucker was inside the Harrisburg Dollar Tree when someone stole her car. She was shocked when deputies told her the two boys who escaped in Concord may be responsible.

"They told me that two juveniles had broke out earlier, and they were from Black Mountain,” Rucker said. “They stole a landscaping truck earlier, about 5 p.m., and my car went missing three hours later.”

The pair reportedly traveled more than 140 miles to the Black Mountain area, dumped Rucker’s car at a McDonald's on Highway 9 and stole another car from that parking lot.

"The guy was attempting to go into a fast-food restaurant, left his car running. The door was still locked. He turned around to go back to his car and seen the guys jumping in and driving off in his vehicle,” Black Mountain Police Chief Shawn Freeman said.

Police believe Christopher H. and Mikal M. then drove to Hickory, dumped that new car and took off.

On Tuesday, investigators announced officers with the Hickory Police Department caught Mikal M. They said Christopher H. was also captured but didn't say where.

At the time of the escape, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety said it had "a high degree of concern for the safety of the juveniles and the public."

State leaders would not say what the pair did to wind up in the facility in the first place.

Channel 9 asked NCDPS how the boys broke free. A spokesperson said, "Law prohibits the disclosure of information from a juvenile record,” but confirmed the situation was under internal investigation.

Authorities said Mikal M. and Christopher H. are back in secure custody at a detention center.

'Raise the age' law's impact on juvenile justice system

The raise the age law will go into effect Dec. 1 in North Carolina, which means 16- and 17-year-olds will be treated as juveniles in the state.

As a result, NCDPS says 8,673 young people between the ages of 16 and 17 will enter the juvenile justice system statewide in 2020.

To prepare, the state is adding access to at least 211 juvenile detention beds.

Seventy-two of them will be at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office in Jail North. Sheriff Garry McFadden will oversee that facility.

The state is also building a 60-bed youth development center in Rockingham.

As for the facility in Concord, state leaders would not say if they plan to make security changes as a result of Sunday’s escape.

They said they’re investigating what happened. They also said this is the only escape that has happened there in the past three years.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.