Nicholas Grove escaped from an Idaho jail over a year ago, and he may have remained free if it wasn't for his habit of snapping selfies. Law enforcement utilized social media to track Grove down, and he's finally on his way back to serve out the rest of his sentence.
CBS News reported that the 38-year-old Nicholas Grove was arrested in Tulum, Mexico last Friday and was quickly extradited back to the United States. The U.S. Marshal's service took custody of the escaped prisoner and began the process of transporting him back to the southwestern Idaho jail he originally escaped from.
When Grove escaped from the Payette County jail in August 2014, it caused something of a stir. The prisoner scaled a fence topped with razor wire under cover of darkness, and fled with nothing but the clothes on his back. According to local television station KTVB, Grove was the first prisoner to go over the wall in over 10 years.
The remarkable thing about Nicholas Grove's escape from the Payette County Jail wasn't so much the method of escape, or even the fact that he evaded recapture. The strangest thing about the convict's escape, and subsequent flight from justice, was that he made absolutely no attempt to fly under the radar.
Rather than simply go into hiding, Grove maintained a social media presence, and he even engaged in lengthy Facebook conversations with a reporter from KTVB.
"This is my element. Within four days I had a new life, new ID, new face, new job," Grove told the reporter via Facebook. "I have had more help from a total stranger that I just met a week ago than I have from my entire family or circle of friend."
Grove told KTVB that he didn't believe the police would bother tracking him due to the fact that he was only in jail for burglary and firearm charges. However, he also claimed to be, "using technology to hide his location and operating from an anonymous web service." And, at the time, it appeared to work. Law enforcement was aware of the social media activity, but unable to compel Facebook to provide Grove's location.
The escaped convict continued to post on social media with impunity for over a year, and he ultimately landed in Cancun, Mexico. At some point, he was even kind enough to change his Facebook profile to reflect that fact.
Although Nicholas thought that the police wouldn't come after him due to the nature of his crimes, he proved to be wrong. Law enforcement never stopped watching him, and they were ultimately able to pinpoint his location with the help of profile information, selfies, and other pictures that Grove posted to social media.
"Social media certainly played a roll originally because this certain individual bragged about his escape on Facebook," U.S. Marshal Brian Underwood told KBOI 2 News at a press conference.
The U.S. Marshal's service would not reveal Grove's whereabouts at that time, as Mexican authorities had transferred the prisoner to U.S. custody but he was still in transit. Until Grove actually arrives back in Idaho, where he will once again face jail time, his exact location is a secret.
If Nicholas Grove had managed to keep his location a secret while he was still in Cancun, or at least avoided posting so many selfies, he might have avoided recapture indefinitely. Grove once told the KTVB reporter that he had a new identity, and that he was off the grid, but it's hard to be more on the grid than posting selfies to Facebook.