(BALTIMORE) — A Maryland murder suspect was mistakenly released from prison on Friday, and state corrections officials say they didn’t even know the man was missing until Sunday night.
Rodriquez Purnell was awaiting trial on murder charges when he was released Friday evening from the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center in Baltimore. Purnell was charged in the St. Patrick’s Day 2013 shooting death of 27-year-old Terrence Rheubottom of Baltimore. Purnell also was convicted of assaulting a Department of Corrections employee after the inmate’s arrest on the murder charge. Police have launched a manhunt for Purnell, who was still at large on Monday.
Maryland Corrections spokesman Mark Vernarelli says the mistaken release was not discovered by officials until Sunday night. When they realized Purnell was gone, Vernarelli said officials informed law enforcement immediately, and put the information out to the public Monday morning.
Investigators are now trying to figure out how Purnell was released, and why no one in the system even knew he was missing for two days.
“We just don’t know yet what happened,” Vernarelli told ABC News. “We handle thousands of suspects awaiting trial, and this is very, very rare.”
In 2010, another Maryland inmate briefly found his freedom when he was mistakenly released by Maryland Corrections officials. Raymond T. Taylor was serving three life terms for the attempted murders of his girlfriend and her two daughters when he was released by mistake. Taylor pulled off his escape by successfully posing as another inmate. Corrections officials discovered Taylor had stolen the Correction’s Department inmate identification card of a cellmate, and passed himself off as the man, who had finished his sentence and was due to be released.
Taylor was captured a day later in West Virginia, and several Corrections Department employees were disciplined in the case.
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