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Rick Scott, Governor
Florida Department of Corrections, Secretary Michael D. Crews

Florida Department of Corrections
Timothy H. Cannon, Interim Secretary


Press Release
December 29, 2010
For More Information
Contact: Public Affairs Office
(850) 488-0420

The capture of a 35-year-old prison escapee this week
a testimony to persistence

Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) inspectors and Manatee County Sheriff’s (MCSO) deputies captured Florida state escaped prisoner James Russell  DC# S06317 at 6:30 pm Tuesday December 28, 2010 at a Bradenton Motel.  

The inmate’s capture is a result of solid investigative work. Russell had been working outside the prison before he escaped in a stolen DOC van from the Central Florida Reception Center in Orange County on December 17, 2010. 

The first break came on 12/19/2010 when the stolen DOC Van (DC 7217) was located and towed to Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, to be processed by forensic specialists. 

Video from various business locations in the vicinity of the recovered van were reviewed by the DOC’s Inspector General’s staff while the van and its contents were examined on 12/20/2010.

Investigators followed several leads but as the days continued to pass, the leads began to diminish. There was one, for example, that suggested Russell may have travelled to Tennessee or North Carolina via Grey Hound Bus.  Although this information was passed on, nothing materialized. Likewise, the U.S. Marshal’s Office was called in for assistance by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office; however, no solid leads were developed.

On 12/27/2010, the DOC Region 3 Inspector General’s team re-evaluated all accumulated data and a new Plan of Action developed.

DOC Prisons head George Sapp, explained that investigators on the department’s inspector general’s staff and fugitive unit always stay on the case long after local law enforcement agencies are called to other more pressing matters. “We never give up,” Sapp said. DOC Inspector General Gene Hatcher warns escapees: “If you are out there we will get you.”

During the late hours of 12/27/10 Chief Inspector Chester Green authorized the use of more manpower and resources and as a result four, two-person teams of inspectors were formed and hours later, in the early hours of 12/28/2010, they met at the MCSO’s Palmetto Sub-station where they were briefed and a “recapture plan” initiated.

In conjunction with Manatee County Sheriff’s Office uniformed and plain clothes officers, the teams moved on people Russell knew and who may have assisted him in the escape. Those individuals were located, interviewed and residential searches were performed throughout the morning and afternoon of that day.

At about 1:30 pm, Manatee Sheriff’s Detective Kim Zink notified the IG Team of a possible sighting/location at a Bradenton motel that came in through the Sheriff’s Office TIPS LINE.

The information was analyzed and a determination was made to have undercover MCSO Teams set up on the motel, while IG Inspectors attempted to locate the female identified as renting the motel room where the escapee was hiding.

Not long after, inspectors located the female suspect and after she attempted to elude officers, a traffic stop was conducted by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. The woman confirmed the escapee’s location.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Special Operations Units, K-9 and IG Inspectors took Russell into custody at 6:18 pm, as he stepped out of his motel room at Paradise Bay Hotel at 4406 102nd St. W., in Bradenton. He was transported to MCSO Operations Center where he was questioned.

Russell now faces charges of escape and auto theft