Charles Morgan Carpenter, Jr. [ FCSO ]
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UPDATE: Inmate breached Franklin County jail fence before fleeing into Gulf County

A Monday evening escape by an inmate at the Franklin County jail led to a high-speed chase into Gulf County, where he was apprehended by deputies.

Charles Morgan Carpenter, 41, Telogia, was captured less than an hour after the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office received word at about 7:20 p.m. ET that an inmate had stolen a car and escaped heading west, said Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison.

“We had heard there was maybe a firearm in the vehicle potentially,” Harrison said.

In a Facebook post, Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith said the search was assisted by deputies from both Franklin and Gulf counties, as well as officers from both the Port St. Joe  and Apalachicola police departments, the Florida Highway Patrol, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“No one was injured during the incident,” wrote Smith. He said no firearm was found in the car, which was not a law enforcement vehicle.

Smith said that Carpenter was able to breach the fence, and run towards the landfill, and was able to find a truck that had the keys in it.

“Corrections staff were distracted by other inmates and that allowed the inmate to manipulate the fence and escape,” he said.

The sheriff said the county’s Flock mobile surveillance system cameras were able to determine Carpenter was exiting the county’s western border. “Larry Smith from the Apalachicola Police Department got behind the vehicle going down 98,” the sheriff said.

Carpenter turned on a logging road between C-30 and U.S. 98 and hit a dead end road in a heavily wooded area,” said A.J. Smith.

“Everyone did a phenomenal job. We’ve had this several times where we’ve come together to have a positive outcome to a bad situation,” he said. “I’m thankful he chose to flee in the woods.”

Harrison said Carpenter was taken to the Gulf County jail, and had a first appearance Tuesday morning. “We charged him with theft of an automobile based on information we received from Franklin County,” he said.

“They were able to avoid a bad situation out there coming into a populated area,” he said. “I’m glad he was apprehended.”

Following a jury trial last month, Carpenter was convicted of burglary of a dwelling with a person battered, two counts of criminal mischief (for a broken window and damaged mirror) and petit theft of a drill or air compressor.

His criminal record in Franklin County dates back at least 20 years, and is filled with numerous traffic infractions, as well as grand theft (of both a motor vehicle and a firearm), felony battery, battery on a law enforcement officer, and violation of injunctions for protection against domestic violence.

“We appreciate the community’s patience and appreciate y’all bearing with us,” A.J. Smith said.

He said the jail had not had an escape in the eight years he’s been sheriff. “This will give us time to take a look at our facility,” said the sheriff, noting that the facility is 40 years old.

Smith said he plans to ask county commissioners to fund additional security measures. “We’re going to tighten up some more and make sure that if you’re in jail, you stay in jail,” he said.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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