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UPDATE: Sheriff says escaped inmate has been taken into custody in Franklin County

FCSO says no one was injured.
Posted at 4:44 PM, Oct 16, 2023

UPDATE October 19, 7:15 p.m.

The Franklin County Sheriff said escaped state inmate Robert Rutherford has been taken into custody. Sheriff A.J. Smith made that announcement on a Facebook Live around 6:45 p.m.

The sheriff said no one was hurt. The people who were allegedly helping Rutherford hide have also been taken into custody.

UPDATE October 19, 4:15 p.m.

The Franklin County Sheriff said escaped state inmate, Robert Rutherford, is now believed to be in Eastpoint. Evidence suggests Rutherford made it across the Apalachicola River.

Everyone in the Eastpoint area is urged to lock their doors. If you see anyone suspicious, call 911. The sheriff suspects Rutherford is trying to get back to Pasco County. That's where the inmate is from.

A reward of up to $5,000 is still offered to anyone who is able to help apprehend Rutherford. Rutherford was last seen wearing a camouflage jacket, khaki pants, grey and red beanie, and a white and black backpack. He is wearing the backpack on his back. No facial hair.

UPDATE October 18, 4 p.m.

The Franklin County Sheriff gave an update on the search for an escaped state inmate in the Apalachicola area. In a Facebook video posted to the sheriff's Facebook page, Sheriff Smith said they believe Inmate Robert Rutherford burglarized a house in the area of 8th Street and Avenue I Tuesday night.

The sheriff believes the inmate ate, drank, and made a mess of the place. They also believe he changed clothes and may now have a camouflaged jacket. The sheriff added that the inmate has stolen bicycles. The sheriff said to call 911 if you see Rutherford.

UPDATE October 17, 11 a.m.

Florida Department of Corrections issued the following update on the situation:

On the afternoon of October 16, 2023, Inmate Robert Rutherford (C01229) from Franklin Correctional Institution escaped from a work detail near the bridge in Apalachicola, Florida. The on-site staff immediately secured the other inmates at the work site, and local law enforcement was notified and initiated a pursuit of the escaped inmate.

FDC is coordinating a large-scale search effort in the area for the escaped inmate. A photo of Inmate Rutherford is attached. If you see the inmate, do not approach, and call 911. Residents living near Apalachicola are advised to exercise caution and remain vigilant.

Inmate Rutherford is currently serving a 20-year sentence for multiple counts of armed burglary, grand theft, possessing burglary tools, criminal mischief, grand theft of a motor vehicle, trafficking stolen property, burglary of an occupied dwelling, and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling.

The Department is committed to ensuring all inmates are supervised appropriately, and that security protocols at all work sites are followed to prevent escapes. Escapes like this are extremely rare, and this remains an active situation.


Monday, a Franklin Correctional Institute state inmate walked away from his work crew in Apalachicola, Florida. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office said this is not a county inmate with the sheriff's office; this is an inmate of the state.

The sheriff's office told ABC 27 the inmate who fled is Robert Rutherford. Law enforcement agencies are working to find him. Rutherford has an extensive criminal history.

Franklin County Sheriff's Office asked everyone to lock their doors and vehicles. They also warned everyone to be aware of your surroundings.

Do not approach Rutherford. If you see him or have any information on his whereabouts, call 850-670-8500.