A 16-year-old who told authorities he was forced to chauffeur two prison escapees on an 11-day crime spree says the 4,000-mile odyssey taught him how to protect himself from being a victim again.
"I've learned how criminals look at the world. They look for people who are by themselves, who flaunt things," Ted Siegel said as he returned to school Friday for the first time since he disappeared Jan. 3.He also learned how to navigate in New York City, where he said the three got lost in a snowstorm and walked 80 blocks trying to find his car.
"I'd never driven in New York," Siegel said. "You've got to watch out for the taxis."
Siegel told investigators that Patrick Paige, 21, of Ocala, and Anthony James Cokley, 23, of St. Petersburg, forced him to drive them up and down the East Coast because neither knew how to drive his stick-shift car.
Siegel disappeared near his family's Marion County horse farm Jan. 3, the same morning Paige and Cokley escaped from the Marion Correctional Institution at Lowell.
Siegel was released in Baltimore on Jan. 14 after the two men bought a used car, with an automatic transmission, with money from six burglaries and three strong-arm robberies, the FBI said.
The escapees were arrested Wednesday near Salt Lake City, and on Friday a federal magistrate in Utah ordered them returned to Florida for a preliminary hearing on federal escape, kidnapping and auto theft charges.
Siegel is glad the experience is over.