Girlfriend of Indiana fugitive arrested as he remains on run after being released from prison by mistake

Kevin Mason was missing for six-and-a-half hours before the Marion County Sheriff’s Office learned of his release

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 21 September 2023 15:28 EDT

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Police in Indiana have arrested the girlfriend of a fugitive who was mistakenly released from prison due to a clerical error.

Kevin Mason was allowed to walk out of Marion County Jail on 13 September, just two days after he was arrested as a suspect in the 2021 shooting death of 29-year-old Dontevious Catchings.

A civilian clerk working at the jail believed she was correcting duplicate bookings for Mr Mason — who had two holds in his file, one for murder and another for parole violation — according to WRTV. The next day, another clerk in Minnesota removed Mr Mason's final hold for a firearms charge, which meant as far as the jail was concerned, he had no pending charges keeping him locked up.

“On September 12 one of our inmate records clerks thought she was correcting different bookings for Mr Mason. She removed two of the holds leaving one additional hold for Mr Mason. The next day on September 13, Ramsey County, out of Minnesota, lifted the last and final hold that we had booked on for Mr Mason,” Colonel James Martin with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office explained during a press conference.

“Our clerk that was reviewing it sees three Minnesota holds, didn’t realise what she was doing obviously,” Mr Martin added. “It’s a critical error, critical mistake. They’re identified very specifically by the originating agency that did it. They have a specific ID number, they’re all different and the case numbers are all different.”

The Marion County Sheriff's Office did not become aware of the error and Mr Mason's release until six-and-a-half hours after he left the facility.

Mr Mason's girlfriend picked him up at the jail, according to Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal. She then drove to an area with numerous hotels, where law enforcement officials believe he may be hiding.

Deputies arrested Mr Mason's girlfriend and questioned her about his whereabouts.

"Last night, she travelled outside of her regular area, which is the Southport and Emerson area. There are a lot of hotels down there. She might be hiding him there. She's not cooperating," Sheriff Forestal said.

Kevin Mason, 28, was accidentally released from the Marion County Jail after he was arrested as a suspect in the 2021 shooting death of Dontevius Catchings

The US Marshals Service and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police are assisting in the manhunt for Mr Mason.

The sheriff said while there was no excuse for the error — two of the civilian clerks working at the jail have already been fired — he said budget issues and underpaid staff made it more likely for mistakes to occur.

"I've made it clear that we are short-staffed and underpaid. That's not an excuse but it’s a fact," he said. "There are four layers they go through [before releasing an inmate]. This should not have happened. They're paid less than $20 an hour to do work and evaluate documents that are put together by lawyers and judges in court. It's a difficult job."

Mr Catchings's mother called the situation "unbearable," lamenting that she had to go through the process of hoping her son's alleged killer would be caught twice.

She told WRTV that her son was a father of two, and never got the chance to meet his second-born son.

"He was loved. To find out they finally caught this man after two years, and for him to walk out of there and have a sense of freedom, of joyness, like I escaped punishment, that is like a slap in our face all over again," she said.

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