Escaped inmate dies in police custody after turning herself in

JSO: Debra Ercolano told rescue crews she had taken heroin, drugs earlier in day

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office photo of Debra Ercolano

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An escaped inmate died in police custody Monday night after turning herself in earlier in the day, Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Director Tom Hackney said.

Debra Ercolano, 55, turned herself in Monday afternoon after escaping from a work release program in Northwest Jacksonville Thursday, the Sheriff's Office said.

About 4 p.m., Hackney said, Ercolano called the Sheriff's Office three times, wanting to turn herself in. She told police she would find her own way to the Sheriff's Office.

Shortly after, a gold-colored car dropped her off and she reported to a corrections officer that she wasn't feeling well, Hackney said.

As officers went to serve an arrest warrant to her at the backdoor of the records section at the Police Memorial Building, she said she was feeling even worse, Hackney said. 

Jacksonville Fire Rescue was called to treat her. When crews arrived about 5:15 p.m., they then took her to UF Health.

Ercolano told JFRD she had used heroin earlier in the day and had also used homemade drug called "Krokodil," which is mixed with other over-the-counter drugs, Hackney said. She also told JFRD she had a history of using methamphetamine and cocaine.

Her condition began to worsen at the hospital and Ercolano was pronounced dead just before 7 p.m., Hackney said. Her family in New Jersey has been notified. 

In February, Ercolano was arrested on a charge of schemes to defraud. The next month, she pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to eight months in Duval County Jail.

It's unclear at this time when she was approved to be placed into a work release program.

RELATED: Escaped inmate turns herself in

Police said Ercolano was on work furlough at a business on Lane Avenue near Ira Road Thursday afternoon when corrections officials were notified that something happened to her ankle bracelet. Corrections officers responded, and could not find Ercolano. Four days later, she turned herself in. 

The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate. 

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Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.