Reward increased to $10K for tips in search for convict who left during trial

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Lake County authorities say they’re still trying to find a man who walked out of his own trial before he was eventually convicted.


Deputies say 36-year-old Zachery Waldo was on trial earlier this month for his role in a 2019 crash that killed three people on Christmas Eve. He was out on bond and left court for a lunch break on March 14, but never returned.

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Waldo’s absence didn’t stop the jury from finding him guilty on all the charges he faced, including three counts of DUI manslaughter.

Multiple law enforcement agencies have joined the Lake County Sheriff’s Office in the search for Waldo in the weeks since the trial.

In an effort to get the public to help track him down, the sheriff’s office announced Monday the reward for information leading to Waldo’s capture was increased to $10,000.

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Central Florida Crimeline normally offers a reward of up to $5,000 for successful tips. The Florida Sheriffs Association’s Criminal Apprehension Assistance Program added another $5,000 to the reward to help bring Waldo to justice.

To be eligible for the reward, tips must be submitted through Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477. Callers are able to provide information to Crimeline anonymously.

On Monday, the sheriff’s office also announced the arrest of 32-year-old Melinesia Jones, who they described as Waldo’s girlfriend.

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She was taken into custody in Leesburg Monday afternoon by U.S. Marshals serving a Lake County warrant charging her with failure to appear, accessory after the fact to DUI manslaughter, and providing false information to law enforcement in a felony investigation.

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