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Escaped Inmate Has Court Hearing

By: Emily Johnson; Elizabeth Nickerson; James Buechele Email
By: Emily Johnson; Elizabeth Nickerson; James Buechele Email
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Associated Press Release

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- One of two convicted Florida murderers captured last weekend after being released mistakenly from prison went before a judge for a first appearance hearing.

Charles Walker was told Wednesday during the hearing at the Orange County Jail in Orlando that the paperwork was in place to send him back to the Franklin Correctional Institution.

That's the prison Walker walked out of within the past month with the help of forged orders that cut his prison sentence from life to 15 years.

Walker was captured last weekend at a Panama City motel, along with another convicted murderer who also was released from prison with the help of forged documents.

A judge has signed an order to send Walker and Joseph Jenkins back to the prison.


By: Emily Johnson
October 21, 2013

Tallahassee, FL- "Jenkins and Walker were along, they were unarmed and were apprehended without incident," said Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Gerald Bailey.

A 20 member task force of U.S. Marshals surrounded room 227 of the Coconut Grove Motor Inn in Panama City Beach,FL. FDLE said Walker and Jenkins were waiting for a driver from Atlanta to pick them up at the time of their capture. They are now asking who helped the convicts get to this point. " We will be looking closely to anyone who helped harbor these fugitives," said Bailey.

The state Department of Corrections says they're thankful for the capture and are re-examining its procedures. "We were very confident in the procedures that we had, however it's pretty evident that with two inmates being released due to fraudulent orders that there was a gap in the process somewhere."

Speaking on those fraudulent documents effective on October 18Th the state Department of Corrections sent a letter to judges outlining the new rules. The new policy requires verification by a judge that if in fact the release order is legitimate.

As far as how the fake documents looked going through the system. "The documents themselves looked good. They looked official. The only thing and the thing that caught the state attorney's attention in Orange County were people that did not usually sign this type of document were on the signature lines," said Bailey.

The signatures forged on the documents were Orange County Judge Belvin Perry. Judge Perry worked on the high profile Casey Anthony trial, but didn't work on Walker or Jenkins case at all. "It appears to me that what they did was looked at documents that were probably entered on the Casey Anthony case and cut and paste my signature and pasted it on a new document. So they were actually genuine looking documents," said Judge Perry.

Now FDLE must figure out who made the documents and how they were filed unnoticed. "There is speculation and underline speculation that there was a source where for a certain sum of money that these documents could be be constructed for $8,000," said Bailey.

When new information becomes available we will update you with the latest.


10-20-13

A judge denied bail for Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins during a court appearance Sunday morning.

The two were taken into custody at a Panama City motel Saturday night. State law enforcement officials say a tip from an acquaintance of the two inmates led officers to the duo.

Both were serving life sentences when officials released them due to forged paperwork that claimed their sentences were reduced.
They're now being held with probable cause for one count each of escape.

Their next court appearance is set for Friday.


By Emily Johnson
October 20, 2013

Tallahassee, FL- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Corrections answered questions from reporters at their press conference about the capture of two convicted murders Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker who were accidentally released from the Franklin County Correctional Institution. The press conference took place at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Authorities apprehended the convicts at the Coconut Grove Motor Inn in Panama City Beach,FL, Saturday around 6:40 p.m. They learned of where they were through speaking with people who knew Walker and Jenkins. "Agents and analysts followed dozens of tips and working with the Orange County Sheriff's Office. We spent hours interviewing family and acquaintances of Walker and Jenkins," said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey.

Even though the manhunt is over FDLE said the investigation is still on-going and are working around the clock to get those questions answered. " I can tell you that there will be more arrest. Obviously we will be back tracking to those who helped carry out this fraud," said Bailey.

Walker and Jenkins had been in Bay County for 48 hours and were scheduled to be picked up by a driver from Atlanta before they were caught.

The Department of Corrections said they're now taking extra steps to make sure fraudulent documents like the ones used in this case don't get through the system. "We've spent the last week going through looking at our policies, our procedures, our protocols and how we can assure in the changes that we need to make to prohibit this from happening in the future," said DOC Secretary, Michael Crews.

Once back in prison Walker and Jenkins will have additional charges. "Certainly escape would be one. Even though they were released they did so under a fraudulent context, so at a minimum I would say they would definitely face an escape charge, but again with both of them doing life sentences there's not a lot else you can do at that point," said Crews.

The investigation is still on going and we will update you with information when it becomes available.


By: Elizabeth Nickerson
October 19, 2013

Franklin County, FL--Florida Department of Law Enforcement commissioner Gerald Bailey said earlier Saturday evening that Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were taken into custody together.

Jenkins was released from the Franklin Correctional Institution on September 27TH and walker was released on October 8TH. Both were serving life sentences on homicide charges. We were able to speak exclusively with FDLE spokesperson Gretl Plessinger. She says they are now being held at the Bay County Jail.

"Our investigative techniques actually led us to the Bay County area and then an associate helped us pin point their location at that motel," said Gretl Plessinger, the FDLE Spokesperson. "They are at the Bay County Jail and they are being questioned, they probably will have first appearance tomorrow."

The first court appearance will be at 9:00 a.m. central time and we will have coverage in our evening shows.

FDLE will hold a news conference tomorrow as well starting at 10 a.m. We will give you the latest when we know more developments.

Updated at 7:20
From FDLE:
From Florida Department of Law Enforcement:

October 19, 2013
PANAMA CITY, Fla., - The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, along with the U.S. Marshall's Service arrested escaped inmates Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins, both 34. The fugitives were found at Coconut Grove Motor Inn, 9725 Front Beach Road, Panama City around 6:40 p.m. and apprehended without incident.
Inmate Charles Walker, 34, was serving life without the possibility of parole on a 2ND degree murder conviction from Orange County. He escaped from Franklin Correctional Institution on October 8, 2013 after the Department of Corrections received fraudulent release documents from the Clerk of Court.
Inmate Joseph Jenkins, 34, was serving a life without the possibility of parole on a 1st degree murder conviction from Orange County. He escaped from Franklin Correctional Institution on September 27, 2013 after the Department of Corrections received fraudulent release documents from the Clerk of Court.

UPDATED by James Buechele
5:40 p.m. 10-18-13

"Fool proof systems seldom take into account the ingenuity of fools," said assistant state attorney Eddie Evans.

The prosecutor, from Leon County, says he's not surprised that someone was able to take advantage of the judicial system.

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were released from the Franklin Correctional Institution thanks to bogus documents with a signature of an Orlando-area judge.

"So what they do is they get a copy of what a real judgment sentence would look like. They can take it and then manipulate it especially in this day and age of computers."

Evans says there are thousands of judges across the state of Florida making it nearly impossible to memorize each signature.

"The department of corrections in Leon County would not know what the signature of a 100 Miami-Dade judges look like."

Now the DOC is taking time to look at any other phony papers.

"The department is going back and looking at any and all documents to be sure that there is not anything there that would raise any red flags," said DOC spokesperson Misty Cash.


Associated Press Release
By MIKE SCHNEIDER and BRENDAN FARRINGTON

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Two escaped murderers in Florida registered as felons at the Orange County jail after authorities say they were mistakenly released from prison based on forged court documents.

According to criminal history records, Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker registered as felons three days after they were freed. Both had been serving life sentences, but forged documents duped prison officials and the court system.

Jail spokesman Allen Moore says the men filled out paperwork and were fingerprinted at the jail, which is not far from the sheriff's office.

The sheriff's office, state law enforcement and prison officials are now searching for the men.

Jenkins was released from a Franklin County prison on Sept. 27 and Walker was released Oct. 8.


By: James Buechele
October 17, 2013
11:10pm

Franklin County, FL - The Florida Department of Corrections says it doesn't know where Charlie Walker and Joseph Jenkins are. They were released from the Franklin Correctional Institution at two different times within the last three weeks. The documents had the signature of an Orlando judge-- but weren't actually signed by him. Now, the DOC says they are looking over other cases to make sure more prisoners aren't released.

Misty Cash, Florida Department of Corrections: "The department is going back and looking at any and all documents to be sure that there is not anything there that would raise any red flags."

As of this evening, both men are still free. Law enforcement officers say if you see either one of them, do not approach them. Call police immediately.


By: James Buechele
October 17, 2013
6:15 p.m.

Franklin County, FL - "It's kinda scary," said Carrabelle resident Kim Brannan.

Brannan lives less than a half mile from the Franklin Correctional Institution in Carrabelle. She found out about Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker being released.

"It could be very dangerous because there's a lot of older people that might not really take it as a big threat."

The Department of Corrections says the two were released just days apart because of forged documents granting their freedom.

"This is an instance where the department received documents from the court," said spokesperson Misty Cash. "We initiated our typical procedure for an inmate release. The department followed our procedures and protocols to the letter, so in this instance, the department didn't do anything wrong."

Cash compares the forged documents to counterfeit money; you don't realize it until it's too late.

"You pass that $20 dollar bill on because, by all appearances, it's a $20 dollar bill."

The FDLE is currently searching for the two men. As for the system, the DOC says they'll look into making sure there are changes.

"We're going to do whatever needs to be done, if anything needs to be done. To make sure that public safety is number one."

But for Brannan, it's a situation that needed to be dealt with a lot sooner.

"They could still be here and you wouldn't have known to be aware of anything until today."


Associated Press Release

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Authorities say two men convicted on murder charges were mistakenly released from a Florida prison with forged documents.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office says Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker were released separately from a prison in the Panhandle in late September and early October. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement learned about the mistake Tuesday.

Walker was serving a life sentence on a second-degree murder conviction. Jenkins was serving a life sentence for a 1998 first-degree murder conviction. According to the sheriff's office, both convictions stemmed from crimes committed in Orlando.

The Florida Department of Corrections says the men were released based on forged documents filed with the court to alter their sentences.

State and local authorities are searching for the men and investigating how they got released.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News

The search is on for two convicted murderers freed from prison in our area because of a mixup.

Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker walked out of the same prison in Franklin County, within days. One was released on September 27th, the other on October 8th.

The Florida Department of Corrections says in both cases, court documents were forged. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement became aware of the mistake on October 15th.

Both men are from Orange County, but it's not clear right now where they are or what they are doing.

In addition to the search for the convicts, authorities are conducting an internal investigation to see how those forged papers were created and who made them.


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