APOPKA. Fla. - Channel 9 learned the family of a killer who forged court papers to get out of a Florida prison welcomed him back in their Apopka home.
The aunt and uncle of convicted murderer Joseph Jenkins thought it was a miracle that their nephew was released from prison. They told neighbors it was an answer to their prayers.
But it turns out the family was duped, right along with the prison system, by Jenkins, who convinced them he was getting out on early release.
Officials said Charles Walker and Joseph Jenkins forged documents to get out of the Franklin Correction Institution. A major manhunt is still underway to find them.
A neighbor of Jenkins' aunt and uncle told Channel 9's Mario Boone that the family had a small party for their nephew's homecoming.
Friends of the family defended the couple saying they were.
"Is it possible at all that the (family) could've been involved in this scam?" Boone asked the neighbor.
"No, it's no way possible," the neighbor said.
The longtime friend of Jenkins' aunt and uncle said there is no way the family helped Jenkins scam his way out of prison and disappear.
"They're not the people that would do something like that. They're good people," the neighbor said.
That's despite news the couple who raised Jenkins as a child, drove him back to Apopka after his release.
"They were just happy that he was home, you know, not knowing what was going on," said the neighbor.
The neighbor said the family members are devout Jehovah's Witnesses and were so excited at his release they threw the welcome home celebration.
"This is a celebration thinking he's finally free?" Boone asked the neighbor.
"Of course. I'm quite sure that's what they thought," said the neighbor.
The neighbor said Jenkins' family was devastated by the news that he is not supposed to be out of prison.
"They didn't deserve that," the neighbor said.
Boone spoke by phone with Jenkins' uncle who said the family is cooperating with police and deputies to try to resolve the matter with his nephew.