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Escaped Inmate Caught In West Palm Beach

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FLORIDA CITY (CBSMiami) – An inmate on-the-run since Halloween was located Monday afternoon.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said 39-year-old Ronald McCoy was caught in West Palm Beach.

He was located at a Sunoco at 45 Street and Australian Avenue after an anonymous tip.

CLICK HERE To Watch Oralia Ortega's Report

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Michael Crews said:  "The Department of Corrections takes very seriously its primary mission of protecting the safety of Florida's families.   I'd like to express our deepest gratitude to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and all of our law enforcement partners for their steadfast diligence and skill in apprehending escaped inmate McCoy.   DOC is continuing to investigate the matter in order to ensure such an escape does not happen again."

McCoy was not present for a head count at the prison October 31.

Agents believe he hid in a trash dumpster leaving the prison.

FDLE said he was possibly driving a maroon pick-up truck that was stolen from a location near the prison in Florida City. When found, he was in a vehicle matching the description.

A West Palm Police Department patrolman spotted the truck around 5:15 p.m.

McCoy was still wearing his prison uniform.

A truck believed to have been stolen by escaped inmate Ronald McCoy. (Source: Florida Department of Law Enforcement)

McCoy was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon in Alachua County.

Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace is incensed that his police department and community were not alerted that Ronald McCoy, doing two life terms at nearby Dade Correctional Center, had escaped from the lock up Friday morning.

"I'm very upset that my community was unknowingly put in a situation of danger," said a spitting mad Mayor Wallace on Monday.

The breakout wasn't made public until after Julie Brown, a reporter with CBS4's News Partner The Miami Herald, got a tip that the dangerous character had rolled out the prison's back gate, secreted in a garbage cart.

"He had a very long history of using deadly weapons," in a string of violent armed robberies, Brown said.  "His nickname was 'Psycho' for a reason."'

The prison, The Herald reports, knew "Psycho" was gone by noon at the very latest.  In a subsequent web post, however, the Florida Department of Corrections claimed the escape occurred at 4:30 p.m.

CLICK HERE To Watch Gary Nelson's Report 

"They knew they had a problem on their hands.  People who were on that compound Friday were all nervous, it was a very chaotic situation," Brown said.  In an interview with the Herald, former DCI Warden Jerry Cummings said the prison is being run by inexperienced staff who didn't have the good sense to sound a timely alarm.

Florida City's top cop says delay left his town at risk.

"You just never know what will happen," said Chief Pedro Taylor.  "We have citizens in this community and you just want to make sure they're protected."

After the morning escape, it took the prison a short time to confirm that McCoy was gone.

"They knew by 11:00, 11:30," Brown said.  "They did the (head) count early, already knowing that he was gone."

Still, FDOC waited until 6:43 p.m. to issue a news release, finally alerting the public at large.

The escape that went undetected, then unannounced for an eternity, is the latest scandal to rock Florida's prison system.

The Herald's investigation has led to the FBI and FDLE probing a litany of alleged corruption and abuse, including at least 100 inmate deaths.

"They're the same kinds of things that we're hearing over and over again," Brown said, including guards looking the other way when inmates are strangling or stabbing each other, guards goofing off while on duty and taking bribes to provide favors to inmates.

The Herald's investigation revealed the case of Darren Rainey at DCI, who died an agonizing death in 2012, after being put in a scalding hot shower as punishment by guards.  The mentally disturbed Rainey allegedly angered guards by soiling himself with his excrement.

In another case, guards allegedly gassed inmate Randall Jordan Aparo to death in his cell at a facility in Franklin County.

Amid a tidal wave of mounting scandal, FDOC's boss visited Miami-Dade County in August and promised a new era of transparency.

"We have nothing to hide," Secretary Mike Crews said at the time.

But transparency was absent for many long hours after Friday's escape, leaving some demanding answers.

"They played around inside that facility at our expense, and I just want to know why," said Mayor Wallace.

FDOC has thus far refused to respond to reporters' questions as to why there was a protracted delay in sounding the alarm over McCoy's escape.

The investigation into the escape continues. Anyone with information about this escape is urged to contact FDLE Miami Regional Operations Center at (305) 470-5500.

McCoy was transported to the Palm Beach County Jail and will be interviewed by FDLE Agents.




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