Originally created 05/12/05

Woman unwittingly gives fugitive ride around town



STUART, Fla. - A Florida woman unwittingly drove a fugitive who escaped from a state prison work crew around town for three hours before safely making her way back home, officials said.

Worried relatives and detectives were waiting for Charlotte Yoder when she returned Tuesday. She had been with William Hawley, who had walked away from his road crew from a Martin Correctional Institution work camp and ditched his prison scrubs.

"She got a little weak in the knees when she realized what could have happened," sheriff's Sgt. John Silvas said. Yoder told Silvas that she never felt threatened by Hawley.

"He was very nice," Silvas said. "They talked about religion, family."

Hawley, 41, told Yoder that his wife or girlfriend was ready to deliver their baby, his car had broken down and he needed a cab. Yoder offered to drive him, taking Hawley to five medical centers in two counties.

She also gave him $20 for a meal at a fast-food restaurant in Port St. Lucie. He was last seen getting into a sport utility vehicle with two women. The career criminal was still missing early Wednesday.

Hawley was serving a 10-year term for a police chase and burglary, theft and cocaine charges.