Bail bondsman on hook for $100 grand searches for missing fugitive and his family
10:56 PM, Jan 28, 2014
9:40 AM, Jan 29, 2014
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - On a dark, rainy night, Ralph Sims drove up and down the streets of St. Pete. Sleep goes out the window when you're on the hook for $100 grand.
"It's very frustrating," Sims said. "I've lost a lot of sleep and a lot of hours on this case." Sims is a bail bondsman. He owns the St. Petersburg company "A Bond by Ralph."
This month, for the first time in Sims' career, a big bond is on the run along with his entire family. According to the Pasco Sheriff's Office, Garrett Bruce was facing prison time for charges of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide when he cut off his ankle monitoring bracelet a few weeks back. Bruce also failed to show up to his bond hearing on Monday.
"Because he's not taking responsibility for his actions, we think he may be fleeing somewhere," Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
The sheriff's office said they have reason to believe the missing fugitive is not alone.
Bruce's wife Jennifer, 28, and their two sons Brett Bruce, 5, and Dillon Bruce, 7, have also disappeared. According to the sheriff's office, Jennifer withdrew her sons from Long Leaf Elementary on January 10. Detectives said she left a note with the school registrar stating that the children would no longer be returning to the school because the family was relocating. However, the family's only vehicle remains at their New Port Richey home along with most of their possessions.
Detectives said Jennifer called her father in South Florida just days ago to tell him that she and the boys are okay, but no longer in the Bay Area. She did not disclose their location.
"Our biggest concern is that you have a woman and her two little kids that may be on the run with him and that is no type of lifestyle for any family," Nocco said.
And with the wellbeing of those two little kids, and a whole lot of money on the line, Sims continued his search.
"I'm driving around, talking to neighbors, going to gas stations," Sims said. "I even hired a private investigator. You almost go into a panic, but you can't panic. You just have to go with the situation at hand," he said. Sims has 60 days before he needs to fork over $100,000 to cover Garrett Bruce's bond.
Anyone with information about the Bruce family's whereabouts is urged to contact authorities immediately.