Florida Manhunt Is On After Two Killers Escape Prison With Forged Documents

Ever seen The Great Escape? That's the movie based on the incredible real life story of Nazi prisoners who manage to flee from their camp through an incredibly elaborate series of tunnels, fake clothing and distractions. The Florida version of that movie would be a hell of a lot less entertaining. Apparently all you need to do to escape a max security pen in the Sunshine State is crudely forge a few court documents and hand them over to the guards.

That's exactly what two killers serving life terms in an Orlando-area facility did. A statewide manhunt for the men is on this morning after their escape was finally noticed this week.

Charles Walker was convicted in 1999 of shooting a 23-year-old man to death in Orange County; Joseph Jenkins killed a man the year before during a botched robbery.

The men, who are both 34 years old, were serving life terms together at the Franklin Correctional Institution in Carabelle, Florida. Or at least they were.

Jenkins walked out of the prison a free man on Sept. 27. Walker followed him out of the barbed wire fences on October 8.

They didn't have to knock over any guards, bore through walls with a craftily sharpened spoon or switch faces with John Travolta. In fact, one man was escorted out so his family could drive him home and the other was driven to a nearby bus station and given enough fare to ride away.

Prison officials say this morning both men were given their freedom after convincingly faked court documents arrived at the jail showing prosecutors requesting reduced sentences and judges signing off on them.

Here are the faked docs Walker used to walk out the door (via NBC News):

Walker Docs

"It wasn't a mistake. Nobody forgot to do anything or didn't do something right. There were forged documents involved," says Misty Cash, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections, who may have a loose definition of the word "mistake."

Cash declined to say where the documents came from, saying "right now our priority is public safety and making sure these guys are apprehended."

Police are focusing on Orange County, where both men have family, but they could be anywhere in Florida.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink