Nightly News   |  October 22, 2013

Escaped inmates may have bought forged documents

DNA tests are underway to find out who handled the paperwork that freed two convicted murders in Florida. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> in this country in florida , a high-interest story continues to unfold. the two florida inmates, convicted killers, who used forged paperwork to get out of prison. they are back behind bars, but now prison officials are worried that other felons have tried this same scam and there might be others out there in the world who belong locked up instead. our report on this tonight from nbc's gabe gutierrez in tallahassee.

>> reporter: convicted killers, charles walker and joseph jenkins , weren't the only florida inmates who used forged paperwork to sneak out of jail. today, authorities revealed at least six inmates have attempted this same scheme. and jenkins tried twice. investigators fear more cases could be out there.

>> we will do everything we can to confirm whether there is or is not more.

>> reporter: of the seven attempts, three were successful. walker, jenkins and adeed nashadi, a convicted forger freed for 16 hours in 2009 before being caught. five of the seven attempts were from the same prison in the florida pan handle . investigators are looking into tips that inmates could buy the fake documents for as much as $8,000.

>> i urge those of you who may have helped them to come forward, talk to us before we find you.

>> reporter: detectives have not ruled out the escape plots may have had help from someone inside the system and say someone from the orange county clerk's office is a significant focus of the investigation. many of the fake documents were mailed there. dna tests are under way to find out who handled the paperwork. investigators have also seized the computers from the prison library.

>> those are u.s. marshals .

>> reporter: and they're analyzing the ipad and cell phone u.s. marshals found when they captured walker and jenkins in a tense standoff at a panama city beach motel. henry pearson is jenkins ' uncle.

>> the disappointment in this family is -- it's truly amazing.

>> reporter: forgeries have been used before, to break out prisoners in other states, including wisconsin, ohio and michigan. capturing this pair's accomplices may prove difficult. investigators say the two men are not cooperating. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, tal h hasse, florida .