SALEM, Ore. – A "major technical glitch" in Oregon's crime victim notification system triggered thousands of false notices Friday evening about the release of inmates, including one on a notorious killer, officials and news reports said.
KGW-TV reported that inmate Ward Weaver III was the subject of an erroneous alert. Corrections spokeswoman Betty Bernt confirmed that Weaver — convicted of aggravated murder in 2004 for the deaths of two young Oregon girls — remains locked up.
Corrections spokeswoman Elizabeth Craig told KTVZ-TV that there were about 8,000 erroneous notifications that inmates were being released.
Brea Day told KGW she was "instantly horrified" when she received word that her cousin's killer was released.
"It's very upsetting," she said. "We thought it was real. I wanted it to be a mistake."
"Routine system maintenance appears to have triggered numerous notifications to victims in error," the Corrections Department said in a statement.
The problem occurred in Oregon's Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) system. The state said service contractor Appriss was working on repairs and planned to alert everyone who received bad information.
An Appriss spokeswoman did not immediately return an Associated Press call and email for additional information.
One man who called KGW was concerned after being notified that his mother's killer had been released, the station reported.
Asked if a similar problem had occurred previously, Bernt said, "It has not. (It's) a first for me." She said she believed the contractor hoped to have the problem fixed Friday night.
The Corrections Department will "definitely" be investigating how the problem happened, she said.
Corrections advised that crime victims and members of the public can also check the current status of inmates in state custody by using the Oregon Offender Search option on the Internet.
Oregon launched the statewide VINE service in 2001, becoming the 11th state to adopt it, the Corrections Department said. In addition to inmates in state Corrections Department facilities, it monitors offenders held in county jails, Oregon Youth Authority facilities, and individuals on community supervision.
Both the Corrections Department and Appriss apologized for the error messages to VINE subscribers.