TAMPA — For 19 years now, Glen Stark Chambers has been living a free man while the mother of the Sarasota woman he killed stills suffers the pain of holiday seasons without her daughter.
But Elinor Hauck is hoping this Christmas an operation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Department of Corrections and local law enforcement agencies will bring justice in her daughter’s case.
Chambers escaped from a Polk County prison in 1990 and has never been recaptured. He is one of 12 men authorities hope to return to their home for the holidays.
That home is prison.
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The men are part of the “12 Days of Fugitives” initiative launched Monday in which authorities are seeking leads from the public about violent escapees who have eluded capture.
One of the dozen, Phillip Donovan, escaped from a Bradenton work release program in 1982, 18 years after shooting a Miami hotel clerk between the eyes in a brutal robbery attempt. He has since vanished.
“We want to send these men home for the holidays,” said FDOC Secretary Walter McNeil at a press conference announcing the program. “That home is prison where these fugitives belong.”
Officials will be rolling out fliers through media outlets and on digital billboards throughout the state with pictures of the fugitives, including Chambers and Donovan, over the next 12 days. The public will see pictures of the fugitives at the time they went to prison, and age progression photos to show what they may look like now.
They believe that fugitives, just like anyone else, reach out to family members and friends during the holidays, possibly making themselves more visible, according to FDLE Special Agent Supervisor Steve Davenport.
“We want the public to stop and take a good look at these pictures and look at the people around them,” Davenport said.
State law enforcement is offering up to $2,500 for tips leading to the capture of the fugitives, and have $22,000 ready to dole out.
Chambers, now 58, was convicted of killing Hauck’s daughter, 22-year-old Connie Weeks, on Jan. 22, 1975. Chambers beat her to death in Weeks’ apartment.
Chambers over the years has reportedly been seen in Orange Beach and Perdido Key, Ala., but leads have dried up.
“The pain doesn’t ever go away,” Hauck said. “I feel I won’t be happy until he is locked up.”
Donovan’s whereabouts are also a mystery since he escaped from the Bradenton work release program. He escaped so long ago that there is not even paperwork outlining how he is believed to have gotten away, according to FDOC officials.
It is known that Donovan, now 70, shot someone in New York prior to killing the hotel clerk in Miami, during a crime spree across several states in 1964, which including several armed robberies.
Donovan was even arrested after his escape in 1985 in South Carolina on a theft charge. But he is believed to have bonded out of jail and gotten away.
FDOC records show Donovan served in the U.S. Army in a clerical position, and as a private citizen as a shipping clerk, delivery man and did some farm work. He has lived in California working as a bartender in the past, and has family in New York City.
“What’s important is justice be served in these cases,” Davenport said. “These men owe a debt to society and to their victims.”