Mistakenly released inmate stole pickup truck in Ocala before recapture, deputies say

Report: Johnny Allen burglarized car, stole truck, fled to North Florida

MARION COUNTY, Fla. – A Marion County inmate mistakenly set free after a mental evaluation last week went on to commit more crimes in Ocala before he was caught in North Florida, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Johnny Allen, 49, was in the Marion County Jail on charges of petty theft, grand theft, burglary and violation of probation when on Feb. 7 a judge ordered the inmate undergo a mental evaluation. He had been at the jail since 2017.

Officials said a deputy was not ordered to stay with Allen during the evaluation.

Allen was taken to The Centers mental health services in Ocala on Feb. 12. If he did not meet the criteria for a mental evaluation the facility should have released him back to the jail, according to the Sheriff's Office. However, officials said he was released and taken to the Salvation Army.

On Feb. 13, Ocala police said, Allen stole items from a vehicle parked at the Comfort Inn on South Pine Avenue and stole Josh Wikstrom's Chevrolet pickup truck from city parking lot on North Magnolia Avenue.

"It was really upsetting for me," Wikstrom told News 6. "That is very concerning."

Allen should have been in custody at the time these crimes occurred, Ocala police said.

"I had to miss out on a half day of work just to retrieve my stuff once they got the guy," said Wikstrom.


Police said Allen drove the stolen truck to his mother's home in Jasper, Florida where he was arrested. The suspect's mother called authorities to report a suspicious person outside her home, not knowing it was Allen, according to the report.

Allen is now awaiting extradition back to Marion County from Hamilton County.

Since the incident, the jail has implemented a new procedure that a supervisor will call The Center daily for a status report on the inmates, Sheriff's Office officials said.

Jail officials said an incident like this has not happened before.

"If he was in police custody, they should have released him back to police care, not to the care of the Salvation Army," Wikstrom said.

The Centers has not responded to News 6's requests for a comment.

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