Escaped inmate recaptured in Manatee County

MANATEE — Manatee County Sheriff’s Office investigators arrested a fugitive outside a Cortez motel Tuesday night after receiving an anonymous tip, according to authorities.

James R. Russell, 35, was picked up as he exited Paradise Bay Motel, 4406 102nd St. W., Cortez. Russell did not resist. Detectives interviewed him Tuesday evening at the sheriff’s office.

Investigators worked with state agencies to capture Russell.

Russell was serving a three and half year prison sentence from Manatee County for manufacturing heroin and trafficking in stolen property.

He escaped from a minimum security facility while working in the automotive department outside the fence at Central Florida Reception Center on Dec. 17.

Russell took a van from the prison to leave the facility.

Dave Bristow, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said the van was not recovered at the time of Russell's arrest.

It’s unclear if Russell committed other crimes after his escape.

He will now face charges of grand theft and escape.

Investigators were tracking Russell over the past couple of weeks because they believed he would return to the area and monitored his cell phone activity.

“He knew he was being tracked,” Bristow said. “It was only a matter of time.”