PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. -- Investigators developed leads as early as Friday that two convicted killers mistakenly released from prison were in Panama City Beach, but the information was not verified until Saturday, officials said.
A press release issued Saturday night on the heels of the arrests of Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins said investigators had known the escapees were in town for two days, but sources with the U.S. Marshal's Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the men were recaptured within hours of the first confirmed sighting.
"As soon as we knew their location we moved in on them," said FDLE spokeswoman Samantha Andrews. "We believe that they may have been in the area for 48 hours."
The fugitive task force, which includes sheriff's deputies and members of other local law enforcement agencies, along with agents with FDLE, arrested Walker and Jenkins around 5:40 p.m. Saturday at the Coconut Grove Motel.
Task force supervisor Marty West said investigators received hundreds of tips on the case, including one Friday that he said, "made a little sense." West said investigators worked overnight, and around 2 p.m. Saturday they got a tip he described as a confirmed sighting.
Officials were tightlipped about the relationship between the two men, how long they had been hiding out together and whether they had assistance from local residents. Just because officials aren't answering those questions publicly doesn't mean investigators don't know the answers, Andrews said.
Andrews said releasing certain details, such as whether the men checked into the Coconut Grove Motel themselves or whether the check in was recorded on surveillance video, could hinder the ongoing investigation.
"That's what we're hoping to uncover in our investigation," Andrews said. "The issue is we've tried to release as much as we can ... but we can't give away everything because it could compromise our investigation."
Copyright 2013 - The News Herald, Panama City, Fla.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service