Martin Moon, 34, was caught in Chester, Ill., near the Menard State Penitentiary in southern Illinois, Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said. Prison officials noticed a car parked near the prison and notified local police, who captured Moon after a brief chase.
A search for the other escapee, 27-year-old Robert Joseph Legendre, is now nationwide, investigators said. He and Moon broke out of the prison in Fort Madison on Monday night.
Authorities said they used a homemade grappling hook to scale an unguarded section of the prison's limestone walls and somehow got around a wire that is supposed to activate an alarm when touched.
Police in Randolph County, Ill., said Moon was found sleeping in a car near Chester, about 50 miles southeast of St. Louis. When an officer stopped to run on a check on the car's license plates, Moon drove off. After a short chase, Moon jumped out of the car and ran into the woods, where he was caught, police said.
Moon crashed the car into a tree, Vilsack said.
Moon was convicted of first-degree murder in 2000 for shooting his roommate, Kevin Dickson, during a drug deal in 1999. Legendre was convicted of attempted murder in the beating of a cabbie, as well as first-degree kidnapping and a charge called use of deadly weapons enhanced.
An investigation of the escape has begun, Vilsack said.
"When the job is not done, people are going to be held accountable and responsible," Vilsack said. "There were a series of mistakes that were made."
Moon must appear in court in Illinois and faces extradition to Iowa.
State Sen. Gene Fraise, D-Fort Madison, said he was told by prison officials that the inmates scaled a prison wall near an unmanned guard tower.
"The only thing I know for sure is they went over the wall in the southwest corner with a rope and a grappling hook they fashioned out of metal from somewhere," Fraise said.
He said the inmates got past a taut-wire designed to activate an alarm when touched, and got over razor wire at the top of the wall.