The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Breaking News

October 19, 2013

Families urge escaped Fla. killers to surrender

ORLANDO, Fla. — Family members and friends of two convicted killers freed from prison with fake paperwork initially thought their release was legitimate and spent time with them, even planning a birthday party for one.

But in the weeks since Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were let out, relatives have learned their freedom happened only because phony documents fooled prison officials. Both men had been serving life in prison, but the paperwork, complete with case numbers and a judge's forged signature, reduced their sentences to 15 years.

Jenkins was let out of the Franklin Correction Institution in the Panhandle on Sept. 27 and registered as a felon three days later at a jail in Orlando, about 300 miles from the prison.

Henri Pierson, who was described as Jenkins' father figure, said he brought Jenkins clothes and drove him to see his mother and grandmother. Pierson planned a birthday party at his home for Jenkins a few days later, but he never showed up. Jenkins turned 34 on Oct. 1.

At a news conference Saturday, family members of both men pleaded with them to turn themselves in.

"We love you. We believe in you. We just want you to surrender yourself to someone you trust who will bring you back here safely. We don't want any harm to come to you," said Walker's mother, Lillie Danzy.

She said her 34-year-old son is a man of faith with strong family values and she reminded him, "I know who you are, you know who you are."

Authorities believe the men may still be in the central Florida area.

Just like Jenkins, Walker registered as a felon at the jail three days after he was released Oct. 8. Both men signed paperwork, were fingerprinted and even photographed before walking out of the jail without raising any alarms. Had one of the murder victim's families not contacted prosecutors, authorities might not have known about the mistaken releases.

"We're looking at the system's breakdown, I'm not standing here to point the finger at anyone at this time," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Friday as he appealed to the public to help authorities find the men.

In light of the errors, the Corrections Department changed the way it verifies early releases and state legislators promised to hold investigative hearings.

Felons are required to register by law. When they do, their fingerprints are digitally uploaded to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and a deputy at the jail verifies that they don't have any outstanding warrants, said jail spokesman Allen Moore.

By registering as the law required, the men likely drew less attention. If they hadn't, a warrant would've been put out for their arrest, the sheriff said.

It's not clear exactly who made the fake documents ordering the release or whether the escapes were related. Authorities said the paperwork in both cases was filed in the last couple of months and included forged signatures from the same prosecutor's office and judge.

The state Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Corrections are investigating the error, but so far have not released any details.

The Corrections Department said on Friday it verified the early release by checking the Orange County Clerk of Court's website and calling them.

Corrections Secretary Michael Crews sent a letter to judges saying prison officials will now verify with judges — and not just court clerks — before releasing prisoners early.

Jenkins was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 1998 killing and botched robbery of Roscoe Pugh, an Orlando man. It was Pugh's family that contacted the prosecutor's office about Jenkins' release.

Walker was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1999 Orange County slaying of 23-year-old Cedric Slater.

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • SPT-HB0725-ColtsCamp-080.jpg Colts Camp Update: Colts urging caution with vets, injured players

    Reggie Wayne isn't the only veteran player whose snaps are being watched as practice begins at Indianapolis Colts training camp.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Holiday World plans new winged roller coaster

    The Holiday World amusement park in southern Indiana is building a new $22 million roller coaster that it says will launch riders to 60 miles an hour in 3.5 seconds, with a 14-story loop and four inversions.

    July 25, 2014

  • World Cup over, but some Argentines won't go home

    Local media reports say tens of thousands of Argentine fans remain in Brazil. They appear to be overwhelmingly young and male: Most are in their 20s, and less than a third of them are women.

    July 25, 2014

  • Doctor: Patient killed caseworker before gunfight

    A doctor told police that a patient fatally shot a caseworker at their hospital complex before the doctor pulled out his own gun and exchanged fire with him and wounded him, a prosecutor said Thursday night.

    July 25, 2014

  • Feds plan review of FSSA over Medicaid backlog

    Federal officials are reviewing Indiana's procedures for enrolling residents in Medicaid after finding the state had 80,000 low-income residents awaiting approval in May.

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel's largest airport after rocket attacks. An airliner crashes during a storm, and yet another disappears. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory, a cluster of disasters spanning three continents.

    July 24, 2014

  • Indiana receives 245 children caught at US border

    New federal data show more than 200 unaccompanied children caught at the U.S. border have been placed with sponsors in Indiana.

    July 24, 2014

  • Witness: Teen's plane didn't show obvious distress

    A man who saw a plane flown by an Indiana teen who was killed during an around-the-world flight attempt says the aircraft was flying low but didn't show any obvious signs of distress before diving into the ocean off American Samoa.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ryan Dalziel takes Brickyard Grand Prix pole

    Defending race winner Ryan Dalziel earned his first IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship pole position of the season Thursday in qualifying for Friday's Brickyard Grand Prix.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ohio State marching band chief fired after probe

    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday after determining he ignored a "sexualized" culture of rituals including students being pressured to march in their underwear and participate in sexually themed stunts.

    July 24, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

How important do you consider preschool for children?

Vital
Important but not critical
Not necessary
     View Results