Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Escapee Returned To Prison After 32 Years

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Russell Trawick was married, had kids and was described as a good employee who even did volunteer work in his community. But Trawick had a secret that came crashing down when detectives knocked on the door of his Missouri home last November.

Trawick, now 53, escaped from a Florida prison in Putnam County in 1975. Almost 33 years later, he is back in Florida and back in prison.

"He kept it a secret," said attorney Robert Shafer. "He had secret communications with family members, but I don't think he ever expected this to really happen."

Trawick escaped from the state prison while he was setting up an Alcohol Anonymous meeting at the facility. He was serving a 10-year sentence for stealing $150 in money orders.

When Trawick escaped, he headed to Tampa. He then went to Indiana and Michigan before finally settling in Missouri.

Over the years, he met his wife and started a family.

Shafer said Trawick was, "Living a total, wonderful life; paying his taxes, doing everything he is supposed to do. Then the state of Florida knocked on his door and said, 'You owe us nine years.'"

Florida Department of Corrections photograph of Russell Trawick

While Trawick is back behind bars serving the remainder of his sentence, his parents in Nassau County have petitioned the state clemency board asking for his release.

The family says his wife is now sick with cancer and he has not done anything wrong.

Trawick has also written to the board saying, "I have lived a good life for the past 30 years and I desperately want to go back to my wife and the life we have made together. My every concern is for her welfare and safety."

Trawick is not being prosecuted for the escape and Shafter said the original sentence was too harsh and would never have happened if tried today.

"We certainly hope the governor and the Cabinet would be sympathetic with our petition, to finally say to this man, 'We don't want to spend $30,000 a year housing you in the state of Florida. Go on back to where you were and live a good life,'" Shafer said.

The Florida Department of Corrections' Web site lists Trawick's release date as Aug. 29, 2013 -- although it says that is subject to change after a review of any gain time he has earned or forfeited.

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