The search for Gulf County escapee continues

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 4:29 PM CDT
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GULF COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The search continues for a Gulf County Detention Facility inmate who escaped Tuesday morning.

According to the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office, the search for Chad Edward Johnson, 43, has been expanded to outside of Gulf County.

Johnson and his cellmate, Rex Arron Veasey Jr., escaped the facility in Port St. Joe just before 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. Veasey has been captured, but Johnson remains at large.

Johnson is described as a white male, 6′ tall, and weighs about 215 lbs. He has blue eyes with short brown hair, and possibly a beard. He has tattoos on his left and right arms and hands. According to GCSO, Johnson is suspected of stealing a 2006 Ford 15-passenger van that has a Florida tag 7039XP. The van was last seen Tuesday around 6:20 a.m. traveling north on Highway 71 near the Calhoun and Gulf County line.

According to the GCSO, Johnson is wanted for escape from a correctional facility, attempted murder, and introduction of contraband into a county detention facility. He was held at the Liberty County Jail at the GCDF on charges of child pornography, grand theft of a motor vehicle, battery on a law enforcement officer, and attempted escape.

Veasey was caught by Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies around 11:00 a.m. in Franklin County Tuesday. His capture came after a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission employee reported Veasey in the woods. Veasey was booked into the Franklin County Jail and faces new charges of escape from a correctional facility and one count of attempted murder. He was in the custody of the GCFD on charges of sexual battery with a weapon on a victim between 12 and 17 years of age, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and escape.

The two inmates were able to make their escape after allegedly attacking a correctional officer Tuesday morning. According to the GCSO, the officer opened the door of their cell and was immediately hit in the face by Johnson. Both Johnson and Veasey allegedly pulled the officer into the jail cell and attacked him. The officer reportedly told investigators he was punched about 10 or 12 times in the face. The officer also claimed that Johnson said something about killing him and pulled out a homemade knife from his pants. According to the officer, Johnson tried to stab him, but he was able to grab Johnson’s hand holding the knife. Johnson allegedly continued to hit the officer with his other hand. The officer told investigators that he almost lost consciousness.

After the attack, the inmates reportedly went into the common area of the jail and removed an air conditioner window unit from the wall, and escaped through the hole.

“There is a $5,000 reward offered by the Florida Sheriffs’ Association Criminal Apprehension Assistance Program (CAAP) for information that leads to the arrest of Johnson,” said Sheriff Mike Harrison. “In addition, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force is offering an additional $1,000.”

Anyone with information may contact the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office directly at 850-227-1115 (opt 4), contact their local authorities or remain anonymous by calling Panhandle Crime Stoppers at 850-785-TIPS (8477). Panhandle Crime Stoppers continues to honor their $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Johnson. Tips may also be reported through the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office App or online at

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