No sign of escaped killer in native Yadkin County

HAMPTONVILLE, N.C. – Yadkin County officials say convicted killer James Ladd, Jr. has not been sighted in Western Yadkin County where his family still lives.  

The 51-year-old, who killed two Yadkin County farmers in 1980, escaped from a prison farm in Halifax County. 

Ladd was first discovered missing Sunday morning, after the tractor he had operated was found abandoned in a field outside the minimum security Tillery Correctional Center.

Public Safety Department spokeswoman Pamela Walker says it’s unclear how long Ladd had been missing. Walker says the prison staff first noticed the abandoned tractor around 10 a.m. Sunday.

Ladd was serving three life sentences for the robbery and shooting deaths of farmers Johnny Henderson and David Edwards on November 26, 1980. 

“If he’ll do that, he’ll do anything,” said Henderson’s brother Jack who fears for the public’s safety.  “I think what concerns me more than anything else is he might hurt someone else.”

Jack, a former Yadkin County Sheriff, questions why Ladd was allowed to work unsupervised on the prison farm in the first place. 

“I do not understand somebody that’s convicted of two murders and is on a minimum-security prison. I do not understand that,” said Jack.

Johnny Henderson, a cattle farmer, was known to carry money with him when traveling to market.  He hired, then 19 years old, Ladd to work on his farm.  Ladd shot and killed Henderson and David Edwards in the back of the neck with a high-powered rifle and stole about $12,000.00.  Edwards had a young child at the time and Henderson had just gotten married.

Ladd was denied parole last year and was scheduled for a parole review in 2014.