Sex offender, missing girlfriend found in Putnam County, deputies say

Deputies: Joseph Tavernia found with Betty Herring in tent in woods

Booking photos of Betty Herring and Joseph Tavernia.
Booking photos of Betty Herring and Joseph Tavernia.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – A 43-year-old registered sex offender and his girlfriend, who was reported missing in December, have been found in Putnam County, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Joseph Tavernia, who removed an ankle monitoring bracelet nearly two months ago, was found early Wednesday evening by the U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force and the Putnam County Sheriff's Office, authorities said.

Deputies said Tavernia and his 51-year-old girlfriend, Betty Herring, were found living in a tent in the woods near the Rodman Dam.

Herring was reported missing by her family Dec. 17 when her son became concerned after learning Tavernia had allegedly cut off his court-ordered ankle bracelet after an appointment with his probation officer two days earlier, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies said Tavernia is serving probation until 2022 for a conviction of attempted sexual battery on a minor.

The U.S. Marshal's Fugitive Task Force and Putnam County Sheriff's Office learned that Tavernia was in a wooded area near the dam. After searching throughout the day, Tavernia and Herring were found in good condition, deputies said. A K-9 unit was also involved in the search.

Tavernia, who was taken into custody without incident, was charged with violation of probation and will be booked into the Putnam County Jail. Deputies said additional charges are pending.