In 1975, Glen Chambers Killed His Girlfriend; In 1990, He Escaped From Jail
Authorities are hunting the fugitive, who's now 67, in Florida and Alabama.
SARASOTA, FL — In 1973, 20-year-old mom Connie Kerns struck out on her own in Sarasota, Florida. After taking her toddler son, Christopher, and moving out of the home she had been sharing with the boy’s father, Connie found her own apartment and landed a waitressing gig at a local bowling alley.
Over the next year and a half, Kerns enjoyed the job, and she liked the new people it brought into her life. Tragically, among those Kerns came across at work was Glen Chambers, the man who would eventually beat her to death and elude justice for decades.
Pamela Cooper, Kerns' sister, remembered not worrying when Chambers first showed up. He seemed okay — he was charming, yet reserved, and a little older than Kerns. After a while, though, family members found out that Chambers had been arrested several times for drugs and assault. Still, all involved kept an open mind — until it was too late.
Rather quickly, Cooper said, Chambers acted controlling, entitled, and emotionally abusive toward Kerns. Cooper recalled, “He kind of moved into Connie’s house and started using her car and different things, and Connie had no control over it…. He seemed like he was preying on Connie.”
As arguments between Chambers and Kerns intensified, and neighbors began commenting on the noise, concerns about violence surfaced. Cooper said, “My mom and I talked about it. I said you know, a couple of times, we did see some bruises on Connie, but she always had some [excuse] – ‘I was in a little accident.’” Still, nobody called the police.
The couple kept it up as live-in combatants for four months. Kerns longed to leave, but she feared how Chambers would react if she mentioned it. Finally, in January 1975, Connie took Christopher, packed up their things, and secretly moved out, relocating to her mother’s house. She was right: Chambers did not take the surprise well.
On the day Kerns moved out, investigators say Chambers camped out at the bowling alley, waiting for her to show up for work. When she finally arrived, Chambers leapt from of his car and proceeded to pummel her.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Supervisor Brannon Sheely described the scene, saying, “Glen pulls her out of the vehicle. He begins to violently beat [Connie] in front of many witnesses that are in the parking lot. There was an off-duty police officer who intervened. [Chambers] began to beat the officer pretty violently as well.”
The cop called for backup and, after a continued struggle, Chambers was taken into custody.
Unfortunately, Kerns bailed Chambers out of jail three hours later. It’s now believed that she feared what Chambers could do to her or her son later if she hadn’t come to his rescue that night.
Two hours later, Chambers took Kerns to a local emergency room. She was severely bruised and injured all over. Half her hair had been pulled out. She could not move or speak. Chambers claimed she had fallen down. Hospital staffers notified police, and Chambers was taken back to jail. This time, he was charged with assault with intent to murder.
Upon hearing that Kerns had been admitted to the hospital, her mother, Elinor Hauck, rushed to the scene. Hauck was shocked by her daughter’s drastic condition, and she remarked out loud about how cold Kerns' hand was. “The nurse told me, 'that’s because of the brainstem injury,’” Hauck said.
Indeed, Chambers had beaten Kerns so violently that her brainstem was nearly severed. She was effectively brain-dead, and doctors knew her body would give out soon, as well. Five days later, Connie Kerns died, just two weeks past her 22nd birthday.
Immediately, then, Glen Chambers’ charge was upgraded to first-degree murder. A few months later, a jury convicted Chambers on all counts, and he was sentenced to die in the electric chair.
Almost as soon as Chambers arrived on Death Row, though, he began calculating exactly how he would escape — and he did so successfully.
Talking to In Pursuit With John Walsh, Agent Sheely described how Chambers did it, stating, “He, along with two other inmates, wait for the jail guard to come in. Glen is hiding above a ledge. As the jail guard comes in, Glen jumps on the jail guard. The three of them overpower the jail guard, and they lower themselves, using a bed sheet that is constructed like rope, to lower themselves from the third floor down to the ground level.”
Breaking out proved easy, but staying out was hard. Three days after the escape, cops busted Chambers in a local apartment and hauled him back to the big house.
Upon his return, Chambers looked for a legal means to free himself. He filed an appeal. Sheely said, “Glen’s a highly intelligent person. He does a lot of research into the law and he’s successful in the appeal and he’s able to get his sentence commuted from being a death penalty to life in prison.”
From there, Chambers worked his way through the prison like an ace. Sheely described him during this period as a “model inmate.” Chambers walked a straight line, took as many classes as he could, and threw himself into studying the law.
“Glen just becomes this guy who’s trying to soak in all this information. And I think it’s very calculated,” Sheely added.
Chambers eventually earned a spot in a prison program called PRIDE at the Polk County Correctional Institute. In PRIDE, well-behaved inmates live in a more desirable location and build furniture that gets sold throughout Florida. PRIDE participants are also not as closely monitored as other prisoners. Chambers knew that and used it to his advantage.
On February 21, 1990, Chambers began his PRIDE workday as usual but, at some point, he disappeared. Hours later, the driver of a delivery truck that had been in and out of the Polk County facility called from Daytona Beach to say that the back of his vehicle had been torn asunder. That’s when everyone realized Glen Chambers had snuck out of jail and was on the run.
Agent Sheely said, “We weren’t really sure where to start looking. It was difficult to identify exactly where he escaped. Glen had escaped somewhere between Polk City and Daytona. Glen could have been 10 minutes or two hours from the facility.”
A further investigation revealed that Chambers had managed to conceal himself inside a box in the back of the truck. He then somehow piled other objects on top of the box while he was in it. Nothing looked out of place. The truck left and, with it, so did Chambers.
For nearly 30 years now, law-enforcement agencies have been in nonstop pursuit of Glen Chambers, from the FBI to the Canadian Mounties.
Sheely said, “In my experience in dealing with some of these fugitive cases, they’re not hiding in the darkness, they’re not homeless in the woods. They’re your neighbor, they’re the person that you work with, they have assumed a new identity that has allowed them to start over.”
Pamela Cooper wants Chambers brought back to honor both her sister and to ease the suffering of her elderly mother. She said, “Mom needs to have that closure. It’s important to her. She’s 91 now, and I think one day she’ll want to rest in peace. You just don’t expect to bury your children.”
Sheely assures Kerns' family, the public, and every life she touched, “We haven’t forgotten about Connie and we haven’t forgotten about her family. We’re going to seek out justice and we’re going to bring Glen back.”
TRAITS & CHARACTERISTICS:
- Weight: 213 pounds
- Height: 6 feet 3 inches
- Sex: Male
- Race: Caucasian
- Hair: Graying
- Eyes: Blue
- Highly intelligent: He was a member of the Mensa society from 1986 to 1990.
- Has skills in carpentry, electronics, waste water management
- Sometimes spells the word “enough” as “enuf”
- Enjoys fishing, playing basketball, and guitar
- Has two scars measuring three inches on his right forearm
- Tattoo on upper arm: “Live Free or Die”
- Has been spotted in cities by the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama
If you have any information about this case, please contact our hotline (833-3-PURSUE) or submit a tip online.
For more on this case, watch the “The Escape Artist” episode of In Pursuit With John Walsh on Wednesday, March 6 at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery! Or catch up on ID GO.