Police: Inmate who ditched ankle monitor captured after hourslong manhunt

Matthew Roberts, 22, was set to be released in October

FDOC booking photo (left) and Columbia County Sheriff's Office booking photo (right) of Matthew Roberts
FDOC booking photo (left) and Columbia County Sheriff's Office booking photo (right) of Matthew Roberts

LAKE CITY, Fla. – An inmate was captured hours after the removal of his ankle monitor sparked a multiagency manhunt late Friday evening, the Lake City Police Department said. 

Officers were notified about 11:55 p.m. by the Work Release Center in Lake City that an ankle monitor, which police said had been worn by inmate Matthew Roberts, was found on the ground near the intersection of U.S. routes 41 and 90.

As the Police Department, along with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Corrections, responded, a deputy reported spotting Roberts going into a nearby apartment complex less than 2 miles west on U.S. Route 90.

Bloodhound tracking teams then began searching the area, and Roberts was located twice, but police said he was able to run off both times.

During a third sighting, police said, Roberts tried to run away again, but a tracking team was able to take him into custody. 

“We were able to successfully apprehend Matthew Roberts after a tracking effort that lasted just over 6 ½ hours,” said Police Chief Argatha Gilmore, Chief of Police. “This was possible thanks to the cooperative effort."

Roberts, 22, of Punta Gorda, was arrested on an escaped prisoner warrant that had been issued by the state Department of Corrections. 

He was booked Saturday morning into the Columbia County jail, where he was held without bond until his release the next day to be transferred back to a correctional institute, authorities said. 

Criminal mischief and resisting arrest without violence charges are pending, the Police Department said.

According to the FDOC, Roberts, who was sentenced to prison in September 2015 after being convicted on two counts of robbery, had an anticipated Oct. 25, 2018, release date prior to the escape.

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