Tuesday, December 22, 2009

12 Days of Fugitives, #11: Michael Salem

Michael Salem, now 65, escaped from the Polk Correctional Institution on April 6, 1980. He was serving a 15-year sentence for robbery, kidnapping, attempted murder, grand theft and possession of cannabis. Salem is today's Florida's featured fugitive.

From the Department of Law Enforcement news release:

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Florida Police Chiefs Association are offering a reward for information leading to the capture of Michael Salem, 65, for his 1980 escape from the Polk Correctional Institution. He is one of a dozen cold case prison escapees being featured during the “12 Days of Fugitives” campaign – a joint public outreach initiative by FDLE and DOC.

On Jan. 21, 1976, Salem was stopped by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office
(MCSO) and asked to produce identification. Salem held a sheriff’s deputy at gunpoint, stole his firearm, and forced him into Salem’s vehicle. The deputy escaped from the vehicle while Salem was driving away from the scene. Salem was arrested the same day by the MCSO and later charged with robbery, kidnapping, attempted murder, grand theft and possession of cannabis. He was sentenced to 15 years in the Polk County Correctional Institution.

Salem escaped from the Polk Correctional Institution April 6, 1980 by climbing over two perimeter fences and fleeing into a wooded area.

“Salem is attracted to tropical climates and beaches and lived in the Florida Keys in the 1970s,” said FDLE Special Agent in Charge Jim Madden. “It’s likely that he could be living in Florida today.”

Salem is 5’11” and at the time of his escape was approximately 210 pounds. He has brown eyes and brown hair. Salem has used the aliases Michael Zildgen, James R. Hall, Bob Zell, Michael Ira Czofka, Michael Sildgen, Michael Czafka, John Thomas Dillashaw and John Dodge. He enjoys swimming and diving and once worked as a salvage diver. He also has some experience in carpentry.

Salem is featured today on digital billboards across the state. The Florida Outdoor Advertising Association and its network of member companies are broadcasting the faces of the fugitives and the tip line number throughout the campaign period. There are 90 digital billboard locations statewide.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the toll free tip line at 1-877-FLA-WANTED (1-877-352-9268) or e-mail FLAWanted@fdle.state.fl.us.

The “12 Days of Fugitives” campaign is designed to reach the public during the holiday season when investigators believe the wanted men are most likely to contact friends, family and loved ones. More than $22,000 in reward money is available, with up to $2,500 offered per fugitive for information leading to their capture. To learn more about the “12 Days of Fugitives” visit http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/.

For Further Information Contact: Heather Smith, Kristen Chernosky or
Mike Morrison FDLE Office of Public Information
(850) 410-7001

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