Florida inmate walks away from work detail, buys sweet tea

Taylor Fender, 23, pays for beverage, but taste of freedom doesn't last long

PALATKA, Fla. – A Florida inmate walked away from a work detail Monday morning, purchased clothes and stopped at a restaurant for some sweet tea, deputies said.

Taylor Fender, 23, of Okaloosa County, was part of a work crew near State Road 20 and County Road 315 in Putnam County when he walked away and headed to a nearby Family Dollar store, according to the Putnam County Sheriff's Office.

Surveillance video showed Fender buying clothing at the Family Dollar, but not before a bystander noticed the man dressed in prison attire and called 911.

After leaving the store, Fender continued south along County Road 315 toward Poppie's Café & Bakery, where he ordered and paid for a sweet tea, deputies said.

At the same time Fender was placing his order, a deputy stopped for lunch there when the escaped prisoner's description was issued.

The deputy arrested Fender, who was taken back to the Putnam Correctional Institution in East Palatka.

According to the Florida Department of Corrections website, Fender was sentenced to five years in prison in May for grand theft, grand theft auto, robbery and possession of methamphetamine.

An escape charge was forwarded to the state attorney's office.

At least the Putnam County Sheriff's Office had a sense of humor about it. A post on its Twitter page said the sweet tea was left on the counter of the restaurant.

"For some Southerners, that could be considered the bigger crime," the tweet said.