Intense heat forces escaped inmate to surrender

Posted at 10:27 PM, May 24, 2016

LEE COUNTY, Fla.  - Police launch a manhunt for an escaped prisoner at a local college campus, but you may be surprised to hear how this escapee was caught.

Four In Your Corner spoke exclusively with the detective who arrested the prisoner who tells us this was not a typical day for police at Florida Gulf Coast University. When we asked Detective Joe Anderson if this has happened before he replied, "No, not since I've been working here. No, not a normal day at work."

At around noon Tuesday in the sweltering heat of the mid-day sun officials noticed a state prison worker missing from the group. Someone at the San Carlos Fire Department saw a worker hanging out at the campus fence line.

FGCU Police Chief Steven Moore tells us, "They determined they were missing one prisoner at that time." That prisoner, according to investigators, was 37 year old Ricky Nelson; a felon arrested for multiple drug and trafficking charges.

With choppers in the air and K-9 officers on the ground they launched an all-out manhunt. Detective Anderson eventually caught up with Nelson at a small bridge near the college’s nature preserve. The whole thing took about 45 minutes and, afterwards, the Chief texted the faculty and students to let them know that everything was okay."

One student told us, "We knew about it as soon as the texts came out." Chief Moore says the alerts go to about 16,000 people.

Detective Anderson tells us about the moment he found Nelson coming out of the wooded area outside the university, “He was walking across this roadway coming towards me, there were people pointing in vehicles, pointing back. When I pulled up he saw the lights were engaged, I got out of the car and he immediately put his hands up and I told him get down on the floor, I put him in handcuffs."

Anderson says Nelson kept apologizing and actually seemed grateful to be caught. Anderson tells us, “He said that he had passed out and he was very dehydrated, he appeared to be very sweaty." Nelson is now facing new charges, just weeks before he was set to be released.

Students are glad his latest crime spree was short lived. One saying, "They caught him really quickly so good." The state provides prison workers to help FGCU manage melaluca trees in the school's nature preserve.

Nelson was set to be released on July 6th but new charges are now pending the outcome of the investigation.