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Fla. officials launch blitz to capture Bradenton escapee, 11 others

State officials today announced an intensive public outreach blitz designed to generate tips and information about the whereabouts of 12 of Florida’s oldest and most violent prison escapees - including one who escaped from a facility in Bradenton.

The “12 Days of Fugitives” campaign offers a reward and a toll free tip line and will focus on one fugitive each day in hopes the public will provide authorities with information leading to their capture.

One of the fugitives, Phillip Donovan, who would now be 70, escaped from the Bradenton Work Release Center on Jan. 20, 1982, while on work release. At the time of his escape, Donovan was serving time for first-degree murder in the shooting death of a Miami Beach hotel clerk on April 11, 1964.

He shot the clerk between the eyes after the clerk refused to hand money over during a robbery, according to the FDLE.

Donovan served in the U.S. Army as a clerk, and also worked as a shipping clerk, delivery man and farmer. He also worked as a bartender in California. Donovan, who has relatives in New York, enjoys softball, baseball, shooting pool, swimming and going to the movies, according to FDLE.

Donovan was described as standing 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighing 170s pounds. He has gray hair and brown eyes, and has tattoos of a heart, "Joe" on the left arm and of a panther on his right arm, according to FDLE.

The campaign is timed to reach the public during the holiday season when investigators believe the wanted men are most likely to be contacting friends, family and loved ones. More than $22,000 in reward money is available. FDLE and DOC will enlist the assistance of Florida’s police departments, sheriff’s offices, and the U.S. Marshal’s Service in tracking down and apprehending the fugitives. “These men are out there somewhere living undetected in our communities,” said FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey. “We’d like nothing more than to give holiday cash in exchange for information that will bring these bad guys back to prison - where they belong.”

“Those of us who have lost loved ones during the year often feel their loss more acutely during the holidays. I can only imagine that those who have lost a loved one to violence feel that loss even more,” said Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil. “Our message to those who caused that violence and loss is simple: No matter how long you’ve been gone, we will never stop looking for you.”

The “12 Days of Fugitives” campaign will focus its efforts on finding the following fugitives: Julio Bonchea, Robert Finley, Robert Baldwin, Glen Chambers, Phillip Donovan, Jano Evans, Frederick Schueler, Gary Prater, Harry Braswell, Michael Salem, Fred Barrett, and Oscar Richardson. The fugitives range in age from 49 to 75. The most recent escape occurred in 2000; others have been on the run for 30 years.

More than ten Florida newspapers have committed to featuring the fugitives in print and online photo galleries. Additionally, the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association (FOAA) and its network of member companies will provide donated space on digital billboards that feature the faces of the fugitives and the tip line number. FOAA members have more than 90 digital billboard locations available statewide

“The FOAA and our member companies are proud to serve as the sole private partner in the ‘12 Days of Fugitives’ initiative,” said Joe Little, vice president, Board of Directors for the FOAA. “The use of electronic billboards as part of a multi-pronged outreach effort will enlist thousands of Floridians in the search for these violent fugitives.”

In 2008, FDLE and DOC embarked on a joint initiative to locate some of the state’s most violent prison escapees. On Oct. 28, agents in FDLE’s Tampa Regional Operations Center located and captured Edward Morales, 55, who was wanted for escaping from a southwest Florida road prison 21 years ago.

To learn more about the “12 Days of Fugitives” and the individuals sought, visit www.fdle.state.fl.us. Citizens with information are asked to call the tip line at 1-877-FLA-WANTED or e-mail FLAWanted@fdle.state.fl.us.

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