FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A murder suspect was mistakenly released from a Broward County jail Thursday. Now the Broward Sheriff's Office is trying to get him back in custody.
Eric Vail had been in jail since January after his arrest in connection with the October 2018 shooting of Wadarius Harris, who was found dead in a pickup truck in Pembroke Park.
Vail was indicted of first-degree murder by a grand jury in April after originally being arrested on a second-degree murder charge.
Vail's original charge was dismissed Thursday since it involved the same matter as the April charge, but Vail was released from jail that day, even though he is charged with first-degree murder.
"On Thursday, the Broward Sheriff's Office received unequivocal direction from the state attorney's office that the second-degree murder charge on Eric Vail had been dismissed," BSO spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion told Local 10 News in a statement. "We did not have and have not yet located any documentation stating the subject was to be held on another charge. Our main priority at this time is to locate and apprehend this dangerous criminal."
However, a spokeswoman for the Broward County state attorney's office questioned how the BSO didn't know about Vail's first-degree murder charge.
"The second-degree murder charge was initially filed on Jan. 29," spokeswoman Paula McMahon said in a statement Monday. "The grand jury subsequently indicted the defendant on the first-degree murder charge on April 3. The defendant was arraigned on the more serious charge on April 9. The defendant was taken to court by the sheriff's office on the first-degree murder charge on Thursday, so it's hard to know how the sheriff's office didn't know about the first-degree murder charge."
McMahon said her office kept the murder charge open for more than 50 days after the indictment on the other charge was filed in court.
She said the Broward County State Attorney's Office spoke again Monday to the sheriff's office and is "confident that the State Attorney's Office correctly followed all procedures and provided the relevant paperwork through the proper channels."
Conception later released further information about the incident, saying the Broward County Clerk of Courts is responsible for distributing "official documentation between all the essential parties about court proceedings, to include communications involving inmates in custody."
She said detention deputies who transport inmates in and out of court "are only responsible for the care, custody and control of the inmate."
Anyone with information on Vail's whereabouts is asked to call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.