FDLE: 2 Fla. murderers mistakenly released from prison with bogus documents captured in Panama City

TAMPA / PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - Two Florida prisoners who used forged documents to escape knew it was just a matter of time before they were caught.

Frank Chiumento is chief of the U.S. Marshals Service for Florida and the Caribbean. He told The Associated Press on Sunday that Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker knew their time on the run was limited once word of the forgeries became public.

Chiumento said once the escape was publicized, the two prisoners hooked up together and traveled to Panama City, where they lay low for about two and a half days.

He said the men did not know they were being watched and were surprised when the marshals knocked on their door.

Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement spokesperson Gretl Plessinger said Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins, both 34, were arrested at Coconut Grove Motor Inn in Panama City Beach, Fla., around 6:40 p.m. Saturday.

They were taken into custody without incident.

The inmates were somehow able to create bogus documents that called for their early releases.

An investigation has shown that the forged documents were never signed by prosecutors and a judge.

Inmates captured together

According to Bay County Sheriff's spokesperson Lt. David Baldwin, the men had been in the inn for several days, and appeared "relieved but shocked" when the Florida Regional Joint Task Force moved in Saturday.

Baldwin said they had been receiving information that was actually leading them away from the Panama City area in the manhunt, but they were able to determine the information was a ruse.

"It was not public information that led them to them. We were led there by sources through investigative work."

Families of both men pled for them to come forward at a news conference Saturday, as the manhunt continued across the state.

Baldwin would not elaborate on the information that led the task force to the men, but said it was not related to their families' pleas during the news conference.

He expressed surprise to find the men together in the same room. "We were able to determine they were still in town together. Which is surprising, because most separate."

The men did not say if they kept track of the intense media coverage of their own manhunt.

Elaborate forging of documents led to release

The 2 escaped inmates were serving life without the possibility of parole before the forged documents allowed their release.

Jenkins, who had been held for 1st-degree murder, was released from the Franklin County Correctional Institution on September 27.

Walker, who had been held for 2nd-degree murder, was released from the same facility October 8.

Both murders occurred in Orange County and the sheriff there believed the men may still have been in the area, because they had registered as felons at a jail following their release, and one attended church with his family after his release.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments