Florida Prison Inmates Escape Early with Forged Documents
Convicted murderers who were serving life sentences were mistakenly let go from prison with forged papers have returned to Florida county where they committed their crimes.
Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins were processed into the Orange County Jail in Orlando on Tuesday. Authorities add they expect to add more arrests in connection with the case.
"I can tell you, there will be more arrests," FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said hours after Jenkins and Walker, both 34, were arrested without incident at Coconut Grove Motor Inn in Panama City Beach, Florida.
The escaped fugitives were waiting in the motel for someone to arrive from Atlanta to take them out of state, Bailey said, adding that authorities don't yet know who that person was or where they planned to go. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is working with Georgia authorities to answer those questions, he said.
"They had to have had help - a lot of help - to get to where they were last night," Bailey said. He said the men were unarmed and didn't have much money on them.
Jenkins and Walker were let out of prison on Sept. 27 and Oct. 8, respectively, because of fake paperwork that reduced their life sentences to 15 years, USA Today reports. Jenkins had tried to escape using bogus documents before, Bailey said.
FDLE is pursuing a tip that someone has been offering to forge documents for prisoners at the cost of $8,000. He said there are at least two other recent cases where prisoners were trying to use fake documents to escape.
"The documents themselves looked good, they looked official," Bailey said, although they contained the signatures of people who normally don't deal with release documents, something that maybe should have raised questions, he said.
Bailey said Jenkins and Walker, "are not cooperating" with the investigation. "In law enforcement terms, they've lawyered up," he said.
"Should they choose to cooperate, we'll have the answers we demand sooner rather than later," Bailey said, adding that tips and leads continue to come in and FDLE is offering a $10,000 reward for information. Attorney General Pam Bondi's office also pledged an additional $10,000 for tips.
"I can assure you that our investigation is moving forward," FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said, adding that this case is a "top priority for FDLE." However, he added that no new arrests are expected today. "We will be backtracking to those who helped carry out this fraud and along the way we will be looking closely at anyone who may have helped harbor these fugitives."
Convicted Murderers Escape Jail With Forged Documents
As prison officials, prosecutors and courts across the state scrambled to make sure no one else had been mistakenly released, police were searching for the two men who already had a head start. Joseph Jenkins was let out Sept. 27, and Charles Walker was freed Oct. 8.
Florida corrections department changes policy after inmates escape
The Corrections Department in Florida is changing its early release policy after two killers escaped with bogus documents.