Missing father of Bengals defensive back found alive in Florida

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Mackensie Alexander

The father of Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mackensie Alexander has been found alive and well after being reported missing Monday in Florida.

According to the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office, the 65-year-old Jean Odney Alexandre walked up to a ranger station Thursday morning at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park and is “in good health.” Local authorities there had spent the last two days searching a prairie in Okeechobee County, where he was last seen picking palmetto berries.

Alexander, a 26-year-old slot corner who joined the Bengals as a free agent this offseason, had left Cincinnati on Tuesday to return to his family in Immokalee and wound up in Collier County Jail on a misdemeanor battery charge after allegedly confronting the man who had left his father behind. He was released Wednesday and bond was set for $2,000.

ORIGINAL REPORT

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mackensie Alexander was released from jail Wednesday after he was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge Tuesday night in Collier County, Florida, for allegedly confronting and assaulting the man who left his then missing father behind on a berry-picking trip.

Alexander was granted pretrial release and posted a $2,000 bond.

Alexander, an Immokalee, Fla., native, returned home to be with family after his father, Jean Odney Alexandre was reported missing Monday night. The Bengals are in the midst of training camp in preparation for the start of the season Sept. 13.

According to the missing person reports, Alexandre, a 65-year-old Haitian immigrant who uses the Haitian Creole spelling of his family’s surname, traveled 80 miles north to northwest Okeechobee County on Monday with a group of individuals to pick palmetto berries, according to the missing person report. The driver of the group told investigators he searched three hours for Alexandre and then called his wife, who he then picked up to help with the search. When the two still could not find him, they reported him missing to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, which is working with the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office in the search for Alexandre.

Deputies and K-9 teams, the Florida Wildlife Commission and St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office helicopters are searching for Alexandre.

“We are a family here, so we all kind of feel where he is coming from or feel for him,” said cornerback Darius Phillips, who had texted Alexander on Tuesday. “We just send our prayers and thoughts to him and pray for a good outcome in the situation.”

A 911 call on Tuesday, made by the driver’s son, indicated that two men the caller identified as family of the missing man had just beaten up his father. According to the arrest report, Alexander, 26, and Eveins Clement, 28, arrived at the residence of the man they were accused of assaulting to discuss “an incident that occurred the day prior.” According to the report, Alexander attempted to convince the victim to leave with them in their vehicle, including using threat of a firearm in his car that he never brandished, but the victim told officers he refused out of fear of retaliation for the prior incident.

Clement then held the man down to render him defenseless, while Alexander struck him with a closed fist in the face several times, according to the report. Officers noted in the report the man did suffer an abrasion to his lip and to his forehead. Alexander and Clement fled after hearing sirens but were arrested a short time later.

“We recognize that this is an emotional and frightening time for the family and friends of Jean Odney Alexandre,” a spokesperson for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement provided along with the arrest reports. “However, everyone must act within the law.”

“Mackensie was fully cooperative with the police,” Alexander’s attorney Brian Pakett told The Athletic. “His sole focus is the well-being of his father. This is a concerned son who loves his father.”

In a statement, the Bengals said they “aware of the situation” but will have no further comment at this time.

Alexander joined the Bengals as a free agent this offseason after playing his first four NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. He was expected to replace departed nickel cornerback Darqueze Dennard this season.

Cincinnati already is down one cornerback. Trae Waynes is expected to miss most of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a pectoral muscle he tore at the beginning of training camp.

“This game of football is something that we do every day but family is very important,” said safety Jessie Bates, who described Alexander as an easy-going and funny guy. “The whole (defensive back) group texted him in the group message and everything, just reaching out to him, making sure he has our support. I’m not going to speak on it much, but he has our support. I hope that God be with him and his family.”

In 2016, ESPN made a documentary about Alexander and his family, “Gift from the Groves,” about his life growing up in Immokalee. His parents worked as pickers in orange, squash and pepper fields for $300 a week combined. When Alexander and his twin brother, Mackenro, turned 10, they also began picking oranges on weekends.

The Collier County Sheriff’s office said Wednesday afternoon that air and ground searches are continuing Wednesday in a northwest area of Okeechobee County known as The Prairie, and detectives are continuing to interview witnesses. Temperatures in Florida have been in the 90s all month with a heat index making it feel much hotter. Palmettos are known to cause cuts on pickers’ arms, and rattlesnakes live among the trees in that area.

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