The missing father of Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mackensie Alexander turned up early Thursday at a ranger station at a Florida state park after his 26-year-old son was arrested for attacking a potential witness in the disappearance.
Jean Alexandre, 65, was reported to be in good health and will be reunited with this family, the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office said in a Twitter post Thursday morning. He walked up to the ranger station at the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, which is about 25 miles north of Okeechobee in central Florida.
The sheriff’s office offered no additional details.
Alexander, a Haitian immigrant who uses a French spelling of the family’s surname, went missing after going to pick palmetto berries Monday, officials said. A missing persons report was released Wednesday.
His son, cornerback Mackensie Alexander, was jailed Wednesday on a misdemeanor battery charge after deputies say he beat up a man shortly after returning to Florida to help search for his missing father. That alleged victim is believed to be the person who was last seen with Jean Alexandre.
Alexander, 26, and another man, 28-year-old Evins Clement, were arrested by Collier County sheriff’s deputies Tuesday night. Alexander grew up in the small farming community of Immokalee, in southwest Florida, where his family still lives. Bail for both men was set at $2,000 each, and they were both released Wednesday.
‘Mr. Alexander’s only concern is the well-being of his father,’ the men’s attorney, Brian Pakett, said Wednesday.
Alexander had left Bengals training camp earlier Tuesday with team permission to assist in the search.
According to a missing person’s report released Wednesday, Mauricet Etienne, 56, told investigators that after several hours of picking, he could not find Alexandre and spent three hours searching for him before returning to Immokalee to pick up Alexandre’s wife, Marie. They returned to Okeechobee County, where they searched for another 45 minutes before heading back to Immokalee and calling deputies.
Etienne told investigators he has no ill will toward Alexandre and he agreed he should have called law enforcement when he first discovered him missing. But he said he was afraid because he had been previously told by deputies that he did not have permission to pick berries in that area.
The fact that Mackensie’s alleged victim and his father spent the day picking berries together isn’t necessarily strange, considering the area in which this took place.
Palmetto berries are harvested in Florida in late summer and early fall, although there are many legal restrictions and a permit is often required.
The arrest report for the Alexander said he and Clement had gone to the home of the man he’s accused of assaulting ‘to discuss a previous incident.’ Collier County sheriff’s officials declined to say if the man is Etienne, citing a Florida law that shields the names of crime victims. But in a redacted recording of a call, the victim’s son made to deputies from his own home, he said his father’s attackers are angry because they think he is responsible for a man who had gone missing Monday.
The report says Alexander tried to convince the man to go with them, but he refused, saying he was scared of retaliation. The man told deputies Alexander then threatened to get a gun from his car. When he still refused to go with them, the victim said Clement grabbed him and Alexander began punching him in the face.
Deputies said the victim suffered a cut lip and forehead.
In a 911 call released to the Daily Mail, the caller, claiming to be the alleged victim’s son, explained he was on the phone with his father when he heard two people arguing.
‘Someone went missing,’ the caller said, ‘and [the alleged victim] was with the guy and now they’re telling him like, “Where’s the guy?” and all that.’
The caller also claimed to hear his father ask ‘Why are you hitting me?’
Both Mackensie Alexander and Clement fled when they heard sirens, according to the arrest report provided to the Daily Mail. The victim gave police a description of the vehicle and the two were apprehended soon thereafter.
Alexander does come from a farming community, which is known for harvesting palmetto berries.
His family was the subject of a 2016 ESPN documentary titled ‘Gift from the Groves,’ which explained his parents worked as farm hands, harvesting orange, squash, and peppers for just $300 a week, combined. Alexander and his twin brother also picked oranges themselves when they weren’t in school.
Mackensie Alexander signed with Cincinnati as a free agent over the offseason after playing his first four NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
He is currently on a one-year, $2.5 million deal, but could earn up to $4 million with incentives. Alexander previously earned $4.3 million over four seasons in Minnesota.