PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. -- The two state prison inmates who were released from prison by forged court orders were ordered held without bond Sunday morning.
Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker appeared before Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet in the Bay County Jail shortly after 11 a.m. Overstreet read the charges to each man, stating that each was charged with one count of escape in warrants issued by the Florida Department of Corrections.
The two men were convicted of murders that occurred in Orange County and Orlando in the late 1990s, and were sent to state prison. Someone made fake court orders with forged judge signatures directing that the two inmates be released from prison.
The fraud was discovered weeks later, leading to a massive effort by numerous law agencies to catch the two men.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and U.S. Marshals Service nabbed the two men Saturday night at the motel in Panama City where they were staying. They were booked into the Bay County Jail.
At their first court appearances Sunday morning, Overstreet appointed the public defender to represent Jenkins. However, the judge stated that Walker had not completed the application for the appointment, and the judge could not appoint a public defender for him.
Overstreet set another hearing for Oct. 25 to ensure that Jenkins and Walker are retrieved by the Florida Department of Corrections. Each man spent less than two minutes before the judge.
U.S. Marshals Service regional supervisor Frank Chiumento said Jenkins and Walker knew they had limited time when the faked court orders releasing them were discovered to be forgeries.
Chiumento said after the two men spent time with families and friends after their release, Jenkins and Walker met and then traveled to Panama City, where they were caught in a motel Saturday night.
Chiumento said the fugitives did not know that police had found them and surrounded the motel. Jenkins and Walker surrendered without incident. Various law agencies are still investigating the forged court documents and other potential crimes associated with the case.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said some warrants had been issued in Orange County. The Department of Corrections and the courts have taken actions to avoid future improper prisoner releases.