A prisoner with a long history of violent crime turned up missing Friday during an 11:30 a.m. headcount at Dade Correctional Institution, a state prison that has been plagued by mismanagement and allegations of corruption and the abuse of mentally ill inmates by corrections officers.
It’s not clear precisely when or how Ronald McCoy, who was serving life, slipped away, two sources at the prison told the Miami Herald. The prison is located south of Homestead.
Local police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement were called to help with the search, which took place on a Halloween night filled with young trick-or-treaters. Police canines also were brought in.
There is a residential subdivision within a mile of the prison.
“The theory is he just walked out the back gate,” one source said.
McCoy, 39, from Alachua County, has a lengthy record of robberies and assaults, frequently involving deadly weapons, dating back to 2003. The DOC website lists him as 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, although his prison mugshot shows him with a shaved head.
The department says he has a tattoo on his left arm that says bicep pysco — possibly a misspelling of psycho.
Sources said he was seen by the prison barber at 10:30 a.m., but was missing during a headcount an hour after that.
The apparent escape was not immediately announced either by the prison or the Department of Corrections. After the Herald learned of the incident from independent sources around 6 p.m. and contacted the department, the DOC issued a one-paragraph news release, which did not include a photo of the man, the length of his sentence or any details about his crimes.
The DOC’s website was down at the time, although it was repaired later Friday evening.
The news release said in part: “Public safety is the Department’s first priority and the Department is working closely with local law enforcement and FDLE to extend every resource to apprehend this inmate.”