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Escaped Fla. prisoners grilled: Who helped you?

By Melissa Nelson

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 20 2013 11:16 p.m. MDT

Chiumento told The Associated Press on Sunday that Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker knew their time on the run was limited once their ruse had been uncovered. They were under surveillance for about two and a half days, and the men were surprised when authorities finally knocked on their motel door.

A woman who answered the phone at the motel said she saw police coming and they went into room 227. After authorities left, the parking lot of the two-story motel next to Big Willy's Swimwear was mostly empty.

Jenkins and Walker were both serving life sentences at the Franklin Correctional Facility in the Panhandle before they walked free without anyone realizing the paperwork, complete with case numbers and a judge's forged signature, was bogus. The documents seemingly reduced their life sentences to 15 years.

Jenkins was released first on Sept. 27 and registered himself as a felon Sept. 30 in an Orlando jail. Walker was released Oct. 8 and also registered himself with authorities three days later.

Family members said they thought the releases were legitimate and that the convicts even spent time with their relatives before they disappeared.

Jenkins had been locked up since the 1998 killing and botched robbery of Roscoe Pugh, an Orlando man. It wasn't until Tuesday, when one of Pugh's relatives contacted the state attorney's office to let them know Jenkins had been let out, that authorities knew of the escape.

Prosecutors reviewed Jenkins' case file and quickly discovered the forged paperwork, including motions from prosecutors to correct "illegal" sentences, accompanied by orders allegedly filed by Judge Belvin Perry within the last couple of months. The orders granted a 15-year sentence.

Farrington reported from Tallahassee.

Follow Farrington at www.twitter.com/bsfarrington

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