CHICAGO (AP) —
Authorities in Illinois and Indiana searched Friday for a convicted
murderer who was mistakenly released from custody in Chicago, with the two
sides differing over whether a paperwork error could be to blame.
Robbins, 44, was released Wednesday evening from a jail in Chicago, where
he had been taken to answer to drug and armed violence charges in Cook
County Circuit Court. Those charges were dropped, and Robbins was freed
instead of being sent back to Indiana to continue serving a 60-year murder
sentence. The public was not alerted that a potentially dangerous convict
was on the loose until about 24 hours later.
Department of Corrections said in a news release that "for reasons yet
unknown, the offender was released by Illinois authorities without being
held for return."
submitted paperwork telling Illinois officials that Robbins was supposed
to be returned to Indiana, spokesman Douglas Garrison said Friday.
clear that all of the paperwork from IDOC was in order, so that they would
have known that he was supposed to be returned to us," Garrison said.
County Sheriff's Office said it was investigating how Robbins was
released. Sheriff's office spokesman Frank Bilecki told the Chicago
Sun-Times that an initial investigation showed there was no paperwork
indicating Robbins should be held.
not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Gary, Ind., native, was serving the decades-long sentence for murder and
weapons convictions out of Marion County in Indiana.
the 2002 killing told police at the time that Robbins was arguing with his
wife outside a birthday party in Indianapolis when a man intervened,
telling Robbins that he should not hit a woman, according to court
documents. The witnesses said Robbins then retrieved a gun from a car and
shot the man, Rutland Melton, in the chest before fleeing.
also found guilty of carrying a handgun without a license.
serving his sentence in October 2004 and his earliest projected release
date was more than 16 years from now, on June 29, 2029.
Indiana have issued arrest warrants for Robbins and officials in both
states are asking for the public's help to apprehend him.
It is not the
first time a prisoner has been mistakenly freed from the Cook County Jail.
Jonathan Cooper, who was serving a 30-year manslaughter sentence in
Mississippi, was brought to Chicago to face charges that he failed to
register as a sex offender.
dropped the charges because, as an inmate, he could not comply with the
Sex Offender Registration Act.
reportedly failed to include the Mississippi sentence information in
Cooper's file, and jail staff released him.
himself in several days later.
In a more
recent embarrassment for law enforcement officials in Chicago, two
convicted bank robbers escaped from a high-rise federal lockup in December
by climbing down the side of the building on a rope made of bed sheets and
jumping into a cab. Authorities recaptured both men, one of whom remained
on the run for about two weeks. Officials have yet to provide a public
explanation of the jailbreak and what security lapses allowed it to