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Friend tipped off police to whereabouts of escaped Florida inmates

By Steve Almasy. Greg Botelho and John Couwels CNN | 10/21/2013, 11:34 a.m.
A tip from an acquaintance of one of two convicted murderers who were mistakenly released from prison led to their ...
Pictured: Joseph Jenkins Florida authorities on Saturday evening arrested two convicted murderers who had been on the lam after being released from prison with forged documents, a state agency said. Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins were taken into custody "without incident" at 6:40 p.m. at Panama City's Coconut Grove Motor Inn, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said. Photo courtesy of Bay County Sheriff's Office.

"When your name and documents that you've signed are plastered on the Internet for anybody and everybody to see, and someone with basic knowledge can paste and cut your signature, it doesn't surprise me that it did happen. It was just a matter of time," Perry said. "It shows that we need to do a little bit more in authentication of documents."

Prosecutors learned about what happened after a member of Walker's family contacted them, Ashton, the state attorney, said.

An October 8 letter from the Department of Corrections to Slater's mother, Evangelina Kearse, notified her a "court order and amended sentence caused (Walker's) sentence to expire."

"Please be aware that recent actions causing the release of this offender are beyond our control. Nevertheless, we apologize for the delay in this message," it said.

Mike Crews, secretary of the Department of Corrections, said he was confident in the procedure to release prisoners, but "obviously there was a gap somewhere."

From now on, prison officials will be required to check with the judge to make sure a release order is legitimate, he said.

Bailey said there have been two other instances in which inmates attempted to use false documents to gain release, but officials prevented them from escaping.

Both Walker and Jenkins appeared to play by the rules after their release. They went to the Orange County jail to register as felons -- Jenkins on September 30, Walker on October 11 -- as required by law.

Though their releases may have initially seemed legitimate, the two convicts later were classified as escapees.

CNN's Nick Valencia, John Zarrella, Kim Segal, Chelsea J. Carter and David Simpson contributed to this report.

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