Woman feared for her life when ex-husband escaped from Decatur Work Release

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MORGAN COUNTY, Ala.- After nearly 48 hours on the run, federal and state investigators have re-captured an inmate who escaped from the Decatur Work Release facility on Monday.

Kelly Woodall has spent the last two days in perpetual fear. Her ex-husband, James Brent Brown was convicted of manslaughter in the death of her father 20 years ago.

Brown made it known that if he ever got out of prison, he would kill Kelly and her family.

So, these last few days have been a living nightmare for Kelly and her new husband. "I was afraid he was going to come to kill me," she said.

When James Brent Brown escaped from the Decatur Work Release facility on Monday, it was as if invisible chains locked up Kelly Woodall and her husband Les.

"Just terrified, just waiting for him to break into my door, just totally scared," she recalled.

Kelly and Les slept only a few hours at a time, keeping their door locked, eyes peeled and gun loaded.

"Every time the dogs barked I had to get up, load up, go outside, look around. I had to actually look," said Kelly's husband Les Pingyan.

Back in 1997 when Kelly decided she wanted out of her marriage with Brown, James came to her parents house, killed her father and took Kelly with him.

"He kidnapped me and took me to a camper in the woods on the run," Kelly recalled.

She said she still doesn't know why he eventually let her go, but believes Brown always regretted not killing her. "Because he's wrote letters to my son that he still wants to kill the Woodall family," she explained.

The family got that chilling letter less than 2 years ago, long after Brown was convicted of manslaughter in 1998.

So, with his stated intentions of harming Kelly and her family, Les took the last two days off from work just in case Brown decided to make good on his promise.

"I have to take a gun, clear the house, every time we leave, every time we move," Les said in tears.

During WHNT News 19's Chris Davis' interview with Kelly and Les, the news broke that Brown was back behind bars.

"I can sleep tonight, I can go to the store without having to look over my shoulder," said Kelly.

But that new-found joy quickly turned to anger over how the process was managed.

"We hadn't heard anything from the police. We had no idea where this guy was, how close he was or anything," claimed Les. "The ADOC didn't call until 14 hours after he escaped to let us know. We had already heard it on the news."

They both believe that due to the nature of his crimes, the last place he should have been was the Decatur Work Release facility. And they hope that never happens again.

"I don't think it ought to happen, but what do you do?" asked Les.

Brown was captured without incident in Falkville, just about 8 miles from Kelly and Les' home. According to the Alabama Department of Corrections, he's been transferred to a higher security facility.

Before his escape, Brown was eligible for parole in December of 2018.