A massive search in Florida is underway for two convicted killers who appeared to devise a cunning way to walk out of prison. Two murderers, serving life behind bars, literally walked off prison grounds, past the barbed wire fencing, past the entry guards and have been on the loose now for weeks, reports ABC on Oct. 19.
Joseph Jenkins, 34, was released on Sept. 27 from the Franklin Correctional Institution in Carrabelle, Fla. Approximately one week later, on Oct. 8, Charles Walker, also 34, did the exact same thing. Investigators said both men used forged release papers to gain their freedom.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office said they were informed of the incidents only after the correctional facility mailed “courtesy” letters to the family of those slain by the men. The letters advised the family that the men had been released, but one frustrated family member called local authorities to demand why. The phone call brought to light the fact that both men had faked their release.
Investigators said the documents were letter perfect in every way: Correctly written in the style of a court order, proper letterhead, legitimate looking signatures from prosecutors, even a cut-and-paste job of the judge at the men’s trial – Judge Belvin Perry, who oversaw the Casey Anthony murder trial.
Perry says the men had outside help, since the documents were taken to a local courthouse and filed with the clerk as required by Florida law.
Bob Wesly, the attorney who represenated Jenkins at trial, said his former client was not nearly smart enough to pull this caper off on his own.
While breaking into the home of someone he knew, Jenkins “was not smart enough to even pull his ski mask down,” Wesley said, stating that Jenkins only covered his face after he was identified by the victim.
In a clear stick-it-to-you move, the two murderers even brazenly registered with the state as convicted felons just days after their prison walk out.
Incredibly, officials say Jenkins tried using forged docs before to gain his release, in 2011, but failed. This time, he was successful, leading investigators, and the families of those the men killed, to question how the prison could allow such a terrible lapse in protocol and judgment.
“All of the information that we have at this time indicates that the individuals are here in our local area. We just need to find them at this point,” Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said in a news conference Friday evening. “We know that they did register at the booking and release center for the Orange County Jail just a few days ago. They showed up and signed documents at that time.”
Jenkins' victim was Roscoe Pugh. As you can imagine, Pugh’s family was shocked by the news that Jenkins was released.
“It's very scary,” Pugh's widow, Crystal Pugh said. “If he doesn't come after my family, it's possible he will kill someone else.”
Evagelina Kearse said Walker killed her son and is fearful for her own safety.
“Concerned for my safety? Yes I am, because he knows where I live,” she said of Walker. “He wound down the window and emptied a 9 millimeter in my son.”
Police are offering a $10,000 reward, per man, for information leading to their recapture.