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A pair of inmates convicted of murder walked free from a Florida prison after a forged document fooled prison guards. On two separate occasions, officials at the Franklin Correctional Institution in the town of Carrabelle have been duped by papers featuring the faked signature of a judge.

Several local outlets reported on the brazen prison escape of Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins, both 34, which has authorities scratching their heads on how the slip occurred. Orange-Osceola Chief Judge Belvin Perry’s forged signature was used in both escapes, along with another judge and members of the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Jenkins walked on Sept. 27, and Walker followed suit on Oct. 8, instances that Judge Perry said should have never happened considering both men were serving life sentences.

From ABC15 by way of the Associated Press:

In the Florida case, Chief Circuit Judge Belvin Perry said Thursday there were several red flags that should have attracted the attention of the court clerk’s office or the Corrections Department. Namely, it’s rare for a judge to order a sentence reduction, and even more uncommon for the request to come from prosecutors.

“One of the things we have never taken a close look at is the verification of a particular document to make sure it’s the real McCoy,” said Perry, whose name was forged on the paperwork. “I knew that that was always a possibility, but you never want that possibility occurring in the way that it did.”

Judge Perry told a local outlet that Jenkins and Walkers had some assistance in creating the documents that led to their freedom.

“I strongly believe they had some help,” Perry said to the Orlando Sentinel yesterday (Oct. 17). “It is unlikely [the documents] were produced by the inmates.”

Jenkins was serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder of a father of six; Walker was serving life for a second-degree murder charge from 1999. According to the Sentinel, this wasn’t the first time Jenkins tried to used fake documents to get free.

A statewide manhunt has been launched in Florida for the escapees.

Photo: Florida Correctional