Three weeks ago, on September 27, convicted murderer Joseph Jenkins walked out of a Franklin County, Florida prison, a free man despite having been sentenced to life in prison. A week later, on October 8, Charles Walker, another inmate serving a life sentence for murder, was released. Both were supposed to serve life without parole.
Jenkins, 34, had been found guilty of first-degree murder in 1998 for the murder and attempted robbery of a man named Roscoe Pugh. Walker was convicted of second-degree murder in a 1999 slaying in Orange County.
Today, both men are walking free, after forged documents were sent to the prison, ordering their releases. Both documents contained the forged signature of Orange County Judge Belvin Perry, who also resided over the Casey Anthony trial. The documents also contained the county seal and appeared to be legitimate.
The escapes only came to light a few days ago, after a family member of one of the victims contacted the State’s Attorney’s Office to ask why the convict had been released. These two men have had quite a head start and could virtually be anywhere.
And what’s even more troubling is that there could be more. Investigators have ordered a statewide review of Florida’s prison records to determine whether anyone else has filed forged documents ordering early releases.
The family of Roscoe Pugh, the man who had been murdered by Jenkins in front of his then 9-year-old son, is extremely concerned about his release. CNN interviewed the Pugh family:
No word yet on how the documents came to be, but I’m guessing there will be a thorough investigation to find out, as well as to find out who could have drafted the documents for them.
In the meantime, everyone needs to be on the lookout for these two dangerous men who now have everything to lose if they’re caught.
UPDATE: 10/19/13 7:08 AM
Jenkins and Walker are still on the run. There is now a $5,000 reward for their return.
US Marshalls and State Police are talking to the family and friends of Jenkins and Walker, and have gathered evidence that the men knew each other.
While the manhunt continues, Florida prison officials must now notify judges before releasing any prisoners.