This story is from Sept. 29, 2011
APALACHICOLA - A high-risk sexual predator, left Saturday by state officials to live in the woods near Eastpoint, fled within hours and is being sought by law enforcement officials in Franklin and surrounding counties.
According to Jo Ellyn Rackleff, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections, Norman Bill Williams, 56, was released Saturday near Bear Creek Road in Eastpoint, after telling authorities he intended to live in the woods, with no physical address.
Williams had completed 85 percent of a seven-year sentence, begun Oct. 10, 2006, for sexual battery on a victim under age 12, a crime that occurred Jan. 1, 1994.
“Legally, we couldn’t hold him beyond that,” said Rackleff. “When the release date is hit, we have to release.”
Because of his prison record, spent mostly at Century Correction Institution, Williams was considered a flight risk and was required to wear an ankle bracelet as a condition of his supervised release. Also as part of the terms of his probation, Williams was under a curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“In prior experience with this offender, he had been put on a bus and got off early and fled, so we knew he was a risk,” said Rackleff.
Wanting to be near his hometown, Williams was transferred on Sept. 21 from the Northwest Florida Reception Center in Washington County to Franklin Correctional Institution in Carrabelle.
On Saturday, two probation officers charged an ankle bracelet, complete with GPS transponder, at the Franklin County Sherriff’s Office, on State Route 65, and attached it to Williams.
“This offender had no place to go, he was homeless, and he had conditions of where he could live,” said Rackleff. “The first place he said he wanted to stay (fell through) because it was too close to places where children congregate. He said he could stay in the national forest so officers accompanied him to a spot in the forest. He said he needed to walk and get a tent and a sleeping bag and he went down the road to do that.”
Probation officials received notice late in the afternoon that Williams’ location could not be detected by the GPS unit, Rackleff said. The officers went around 6:30 p.m. to the location where Williams was to be and found he had vanished. The officers immediately notified area departments to be on the lookout for Williams, who is 6’4” and weighs 245 pounds, with extensive tattoos.
“He was free to go before curfew and that is when he got away from us,” said Rackleff. ”We had good cooperation from law enforcement and the prison. It was done the best we know how to do.”
Franklin County Undersheriff Joel Norred said the ankle bracelet was found near Bear Creek Road. “That’s when they determined that he had cut it,” he said.
“We have information that he was taken to Bay County that night,” said Norred. He said the department is seeking a warrant for Williams’ arrest for failing to register as a sexual predator.
Rackleff said state officials are seeking a warrant for absconding.
Law enforcement officials are also pursuing leads that Williams may have left the state. Individuals should contact their local law enforcement agency if they believe they know his whereabouts.