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Joseph Frye has spent half his life in jail - and his entire life in the state's care.

Rapist Joseph Frye had been a free man for only a month in 2002 when he called his half sister Linda. He told her he wanted to go back to prison.

In the months ahead, he began to make that happen.

He was charged with trespassing and carrying an open container. He raised hell at a halfway house. He evaded his probation officer multiple times. In 2004, he was back in prison until 2009.

Frye, 49, has spent almost half of his life incarcerated, but he's spent his entire life in the state's care - from his crib at a foster home to a center for juvenile delinquents to a jail cell.

"There's no question that there are some offenders who are basically institutionalized," said Bill Bales, a Florida State University criminology professor who served for 12 years as director of research for the Florida Department of Corrections.

"They can't cope in the outside world," Bales said. "They would rather be in prison and be told what to do every minute of the day and be provided with all the necessities of life."

Frye hasn't lasted long on the outside. In 1985, just a month after his release from prison on burglary and escape attempt convictions, he robbed a woman at gunpoint and raped another.

Then this August, again just a month after his release, police say, he broke into the home of a Seminole Heights woman in her 70s and raped her.

An intense search followed.

"He doesn't care if he gets caught," Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said.

Frye, once found, confessed to police.


On Tuesday, the Department of Children and Families released records to the St. Petersburg Times that chronicle Frye's life in the system, including interviews with family members, a probation officer's logs and a litany of criminal activity that began when he was 11 years old.

Frye's first appearance in DCF records is at age 11, when he was sent to the Bay Child Center, a home for emotionally disturbed juveniles. According to his sister's accounts, he had already spent a decade in different foster homes and set fire to one of their back yards.

The following year, his stepfather, Alfred Weekes, was charged with lewd and lascivious conduct upon him. It's unclear whether the 1972 charge went to court. Weekes, now deceased, had also been arrested on charges of larceny and embezzlement.

Frye's mother discredited the account of abuse when it happened, his sister Linda said.

"My mother said he had made all that up. Joey was mad at him," she said. "My mom made it like it was no big deal."

At age 13, Frye admitted to burglary. He ran away several times from different foster homes. He was accused of engaging in abnormal sexual behavior, taking drugs and threatening to vandalize his foster home. Then, he ran away again.

Before age 18, he was convicted of arson and imprisoned.

Both his birth parents died in the 1970s - his father of cirrhosis and his mother of cancer. He had one half sister and two brothers. The brothers have died. He went to junior high in Panama City and Plant High after that. He dropped out as a sophomore.

Before his 1985 rape arrest and conviction, Frye lived with his sister on Suwanee Avenue in Seminole Heights, blocks from where the most recent rape victim lives. When asked in the 1980s about him, Frye's sister Linda told an investigator "no matter what people do for Joseph, he ends up going back to his criminal behavior."

A woman later married to Frye's stepfather, who also happened to be an attempted burglary victim, told officials he was a lost cause.

Frye entered prison again at age 25. He didn't leave until after he turned 41.


Frye's probation officers kept a log of his activities after he was released from prison in 2001. They show one supervisor of a transitional living center called him a sociopath.

Frye lived with his sister shortly after the release, but the arrangement did not last long.

A week after he left, he told her he wanted to go back to prison. He didn't want a probation officer.

Six months later in June 2002, he was making trouble in his unit at a halfway house on 2400 E Henry Ave., the documents state.

He drank beer and talked others into joining him. He intimidated his roommate. He got into a fight where he sucker punched someone. He also admitted to becoming sexually involved with a woman there, which was against the rules.

The report quotes a supervisor there who said Frye "is a sociopath and has taken over the unit the way an inmate would take over the yard."

He was moved, but less than a month later, a supervisor at the Henry Avenue center called the officer to accuse Frye of raping a resident. The alleged victim declined to press charges.

The day of the alleged incident, he was cited for having an open container near a boarding home where his brother lived.

Frye called his probation officer to tell him about the open container citation. At first he said he didn't know the woman alleged to have been raped. But later he said they had consensual sex.

She pulled out a condom and told Frye she was HIV positive, he told the probation officer. He said he slapped the woman, because they'd had unprotected sex in the past.

Frye was charged with trespassing that September. In 2003, he absconded twice. He surfaced in 2004.

A Hillsborough judge ordered that he stay at the Salvation Army, but in open court, records say, a representative from the Salvation Army told the judge it would not accept him. "Probation officer found this to be very inconsistent," records show.

When a deputy drove him to the Salvation Army, people there turned him away, gave him a bus pass and told him to report to his probation officer. Frye went missing again for about two weeks until he surfaced at a social security office.

He went to prison until his release this year.

DCF officials used their records on Frye to determine before his recent release whether he would pose a threat as a sexual predator under the Jimmy Ryce act. Had he qualified, he would have been kept involuntarily in a secured treatment center.

The agency determined he was not dangerous enough to qualify.

He was released Aug. 1, and 27 days later, police say, he raped a woman three times at gunpoint.

History repeated itself:

He was back in a jail bed last week, after just one month as a free man.

Times researcher Will Gorham and staff writer Kevin Graham contributed to this report. Alexandra Zayas can be reached at or (813) 226-3354.