Broward sheriff's office frees murder suspect after confusion about charges: reports

A suspected killer is on the loose in Florida after he was mistakenly released from jail when the charge against him was upgraded to first-degree murder — allegedly confusing Broward County sheriff's officials.

Eric Vail had been jailed in January in connection with the murder of Wadarius Harris. Harris was found fatally shot in a pickup truck in Pembroke Park in October 2018, and Vail was charged with second-degree murder.

Last week, the second-degree charge was dismissed — and upgraded to first-degree murder. The Broward County Sheriff's Office says it was told the initial charge had been dismissed and didn't know Vail was being held for anything else.

“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," spokesperson Keyla Concepcion told WSVN 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.”

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But the Broward County State Attorney's Office said it's unclear what the sheriff's office was confused about.

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"The second-degree murder charge was initially filed on Jan. 29," Paula McMahon, a spokesperson for the office, told WPLG on 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."

McMahon added: "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."

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The Broward County Sheriff's Office did not immediately return Fox News' request for comment.

Anyone with information on Vail's location is urged to contact the Broward County Crime Stoppers hotline at 954-493-TIPS.