Escaped Florida Killers Brazenly Registered as Felons Days After Their Escapes

PHOTO: Two convicted murderers, Charles Walker, left, and Joseph Jenkins were mistakenly released from prison with forged documents in Franklin County, Fla., in late September and early October.PlayFlorida Department of Corrections/AP Photo
WATCH Murderers Mistakenly Released From Prison

Days after two convicted killers serving life sentences walked out a Florida state prison, they brazenly turned up at another jail to be registered as ex-felons, according to officials.

Joseph Jenkins was released on Sept. 27 from the Franklin Correctional Institution and a month later, on Oct. 8, Charles Walker was released from the same facility, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Forged documents ordered reduced sentences for the two.

Both went to the corrections department to register three days after their respective releases, officials said.

"They come to the booking lobby where they are finger printed and a Voluntary Criminal Registrant form is filled out," a spokeswoman for the corrections department told ABC News in an email.

The sheriff's deputy in the lobby checks for wants and warrants and if there are none, the form is completed and taken to the sheriff's office. Officials do not believe there is video from when Jenkins and Walker each registered because that area does not have cameras.

The men were convicted and serving time for separate crimes. Jenkins, 34, was in jail on a 1998 first-degree murder conviction. He killed a father of six. Charles Walker, also 34, was serving a life sentence for a second-degree murder. He shot a 23-year-old man in 1999.

Jenkins' victim was Roscoe Pugh, whose family was shocked by the news that Jenkins was released.

"It's just real scary right now," Roscoe Pugh's niece, who asked not to be identified, told ABC News' Orlando affiliate WFTV. "Everybody's terrified."

She said Pugh's widow Crystal, her aunt, is afraid to be at home.

"She's real terrified. She won't even stay in her home," Crystal's niece told WFTV. "She left everything in it and she's not coming back."

"She's really worried. No one has control over it," she said. "It's out of the police's hands. How are they going to protect her if they can't even keep him where he needs to be?"

A manhunt is underway in central Florida where law enforcement officials have launched an all-hands-on-deck search for the two men.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said at a news conference today that officials believe the two men are still in Orange County and a $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to their arrests.

Demings said there are no indications at this time of other erroneous releases. He said he would not point fingers in regards to where a mistake was made, saying, "It's our job to take fugitives into custody and that's what we're going to do."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said today that authorities are working "very diligently" to apprehend the escapees.

"Every time anything happens in the state, you look back and say, what can we improve?" Scott told WFTV. "But right now we're going to keep our state safe, we're going to apprehend those individuals and then we'll go back and look back at what needs to change to make sure it never happens again."

Another convict, Jeffrey Forbes, is currently being prosecuted for "forgery, uttering a forgery and attempted escape using a similar scheme." His escape plans were thwarted this past spring when a detective on the case was searching the database and "came upon the surprising information that Mr. Forbes was scheduled to be released .... notwithstanding his life imprisonment sentence for the attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer."

The State Attorney's Office on Wednesday ordered his prosecutors to review their records to make sure no one else they'd prosecuted had "filed similar forged documents or other suspicious court activity."

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was not notified of the mistake until Tuesday, according to the sheriff's office who, in a press release, stated the men were released as a result of forged paperwork filed at the Orange County Clerk of Courts.

In a phone interview with WFTV, Jessica Cary of the Florida Department of Corrections, said, "We don't know how this happened. However, upon the release of the inmates, we had followed all policies and procedures."

Where the release documents originated is unclear and is being investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. ABC News obtained a copy of the documents from the Orange County Clerk's Office. Officials there denied ABC's request for an interview. But, according to Lisa Bainbridge, director of communications for the county clerk's office, the approval for release documents did not originate from the clerk's office; rather, documents reducing a sentence originate in a judge's office.

Bainbridge tells ABC News that in the wake of the mistaken release, her office will review policies for reviewing and processing documents.

Anyone with information on the men is urged to contact the Orange County, Florida Sheriff's Office.