Glades Correctional Institution
First opening in 1932 as Florida Prison Farm #2, the named changed in 1951 to Glades State Prison Farm and then to Glades Correctional Institution in 1962.
On January 2, 1995, Florida had its largest prison break in 15 years. Six inmates escaped from Glades Correctional Institution via a tunnel they dug beneath the chapel which was under construction at the time. The tunnel was 8 feet deep, two feet wide and 25 yards long. A correctional officer noticed some of the inmates as they were making their getaway and fired two gunshots. None of the inmates were believed hit by gunfire. One inmate, Felix Carbonell, was apprehended almost immediately outside the prison fence. The remaining escapees were Hector Rivas, 32; Juan Fleitas, 30; Jesus Martinez, 47; Florencio Alvarez, 39; and Armando Junco, 62. All were serving life sentences with 25-year-mandatories.
A tip from two citizens to a Florida Highway Patrol station led to the recapture of Alvarez and the death of Junco, who was shot by a Miami police officer during the recapture that included the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI, Miami PD, and Metro-Dade police. Rivas was caught next, 10 days after the escape, by a patrol officer who spotted him walking in Little Havana. Martinez was caught the next day, also in Little Havana, when he made the mistake of walking in front of a patrol car and was recognized. Fleitas remained on the loose until August 3, 1997, when he was shot by Mexican police during a botched robbery. When the photo made the local newspaper, a tipster recognized him from America’s Most Wanted and called the FBI.
As a result of these escapes, the Florida Department of Corrections received additional security equipment which included improving or purchasing electronic detection systems for all major institutions, fencing and razor wire, radios and perimeter vehicles. In addition to the equipment upgrades, over 860 personnel were hired including 180 which focused on the areas of inmate movement, emergency response, searches and confinement escort.
The Devil’s Tree, Port St, Lucie, FL
In the quiet Oak Hammock Park, there exists a tree that has more dubious intentions than one might first expect. It has been the site of numerous murders, bizarre sightings, and other strange activity. Locals have countless stories of the tree and warn others to never come near it after nightfall. Fortunately, the park has a strict curfew at sunset, disallowing any visitors hoping to experience its influence.
This oak tree, known as The Devil’s Tree, is a seemingly normal tree in a park at Port St. Lucie. It, however, hides a sinister past as there has been the site of multiple gruesome murders since the 1970s, cult activity, and even attempted exorcisms by catholic priests. One of the most interesting features of this tree is the fact that there have been several attempts to cut or burn it down, all of which ultimately have failed (the tree shows markings of failed burnings and marks produced by chainsaws).
Arguably the most important information one can learn about the Devil’s Tree is actually about a man. The man in question was named Gerard John Schaefer: a police officer (and later serial killer). Schaefer lived a terrible life. His childhood was filled with abuse and self loathing. Schaefer suffered from gender dysphoria from a young age that some argue was caused by his alcoholic father’s policy of never beating Schaefer’s sister. Because of this, Schaefer received the punishments meant for both himself and his sister whenever they were due. Schaefer began to experiment with his body by stealing women’s clothing and wearing it in private. He would go on walks in the forest secretly and tie himself to a tree (now known as the devil’s tree) before beating or cutting himself. This obsession of resentment and worship with the female sex along with his fixation on this tree would lead him to center the majority of his killings around it.
Schaefer used his position as a police officer to lure young women back to his tree (during a time period where hitchhiking was the norm). He would tie them up, sexually abuse them, and then psychologically abuse them before finally killing them. After he was finished (which sometimes took days or weeks) he would keep the dead bodies around for a while before burying them at the tree with their ropes still attached. His downfall came when he was called for a dispatch during the middle of a double kidnapping. Because he was confident, he never concealed his identity so when he left for work and the women escaped they easily identified him, leading to his arrest.