Two escaped murderers who were mistakenly released from a Panhandle prison were caught Saturday at a Panama City Beach motel. Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins, both 34, were found at Coconut Grove Motor Inn.
They were arrested without violence, the agency said. They are expected to be booked into the Bay County Jail Saturday night. The capture came about four hours after a news conference in which relatives of the two men, who were serving life sentences at Franklin Correctional Institution, implored them to turn themselves in.
“We want you to return home safely,” Walker’s mother, Lillie Danzy said. “We love you. We believe in you. We just want you to surrender yourself to someone you trust, who will bring you back in safely.”
After his release, Walker hung out with family and went to church. Jenkins returned to Orange County with relatives wearing new clothes they bought on the way to pick him up from the prison.
The releases, triggered by falsified court paperwork, led to changes in the way the Florida Department of Corrections verifies documents that change inmates’ sentences.
Walker, who was convicted of a 1999 second-degree murder, was released Oct. 8. Jenkins, who was imprisoned for the 1998 first-degree murder of a father of six, was let go Sept. 27.
Both men registered as felons at the Orange County Jail three days after they were set free, a process that includes providing fingerprints. Registration is required of newly released inmates.
At the news conference, Henry Pearson, described as a father figure to Jenkins, said the family received a call from the prison about 3:30 p.m. Sept. 27.
“We took off immediately,” said Pearson, who is related to Jenkins through marriage and referred to him as a “our nephew.”
They arrived about 9:30 p.m. and handed over the clothes they had bought. About 11 p.m., Jenkins walked out wearing them.
His first stop was his grandmother’s house. The next was to visit his mother. Then he went to Pearson’s house. Relatives planned a birthday party Oct. 1, but Jenkins never showed up, Pearson said.
Danzy’s attorney, Rhonda Henderson, said Danzy received a call from the Franklin Correctional Institution Oct. 8 notifying her that her son would be released immediately. She called the prison back twice to be sure and got the same information.