Authorities capture 2 Fla. prisoners at motel

By Melissa Nelson

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Oct. 19 2013 9:55 p.m. MDT

For the past four days, authorities believe the men were in the Panama City area, said Frank Chiumento, a chief inspector with the U.S. Marshals Service.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey said authorities were able to track down the men through interviews with people who visited them at the prison, called them there or made deposits into their canteen account. That included family members and ex-girlfriends and others, he said.

"The key piece of this was an individual or individuals that had made deposits into their canteen accounts at the prison," Bailey said.

The men weren't planning on staying in Panama City Beach very long, he said. Someone from Atlanta was coming to pick them up and take them somewhere else, Bailey said. The investigation will now turn to the forgeries, he said.

"Now that we have them in custody, we're hoping to get something from the interviews with them," Bailey said. "We seized printers from the prisons, now we're going to be able to throw a lot of resources at this part of the investigation. We're already working it and there's already a lot going on."

Forensic experts were reviewing the documents, he said.

The falsified paperwork exposed gaps in Florida's judicial system. In light of the errors, the Corrections Department changed the way it verifies early releases and prison officials will now verify with judges — not just court clerks — before releasing prisoners early.

Pearson said he was shocked to learn earlier this week that his nephew was not supposed to be out of prison. He said it took him a day or two to actually process what had happened.

On Saturday night, he heard about the captures while watching TV. Soon after, a law enforcement agent called his home unexpectedly and let Jenkins talk to his wife.

"He just said that he was OK and that he loved us," Pearson said. "We have a great sense of relief because we did not know how this would end up."

Associated Press photographer John Raoux in Orlando and reporter Jonathan Drew in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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