WICHITA, Kan -- The Kansas Department of Corrections is looking for the public's help to track down an inmate that Missouri officials accidentally released from custody.
Sean P. McKenzie, 35, was released by Vernon County (Mo.) February 26th, Vernon County Jail Administrator Lt. Mike Buehler said.
McKenzie was serving a substantial sentence in Kansas for more than 20 convictions. The Kansas Department of Corrections handed McKenzie over to Vernon County on November 26th on a detainer for a warrant that county had issued for him, Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said. He was to stand trial for theft charges.
The Kansas Department of Corrections called Vernon County this past Monday to check in. There was no red flags or reason to suspect anything was wrong, the Department just wanted to check McKenzie's status, Barclay said.
They got a surprise.
"At that time, we were notified a clerical incident had taken place," Barclay said.
Vernon County leaders told them that McKenzie had stood trial February 25th in Nevada, Mo. The charges were dropped. The next day, Buehler said, officers ran McKenzie's information through a variety of state and national databases as stipulated by Missouri's "Jake's Law." He says McKenzie's file showed no reason for him to be held and he was released.
That file should not have come back clean, Buehler said.
He says a mistake had been made and no one had put a hold in McKenzie's file for the state of Kansas, where McKenzie still had time left to serve.
"In the state of Kansas, this individual has at least 12 convictions for theft, two for burglary, a couple for drugs. He's already serving time for fleeing law enforcement," Barclay said.
Barclay says also among McKenzie's convictions, is a previous escape. In February 2012, McKenzie was serving as a trustee at the Sedgwick County Detention Center and escaped while taking out the trash. He was caught about a week later after leading police on a chase that ended in southwest Wichita near 31st and Meridian.
Given all of those convictions, he had quite a bit of time to serve.
"He was nowhere near close to release," Barclay said. "This is an individual you do not want on the streets and he needs to finish serving the time he should have been serving in the Kansas Department of Corrections."
Barclay says McKenzie has been seen in the Coffeyville area where he has family. McKenzie also has family in Wichita. He says McKenzie is considered to be dangerous.
"This is not somebody that should be approached by anybody But rather if you see this individual, contact law enforcement immediately," Barclay said.
In the meantime, Vernon County leaders say they have taken numerous steps to prevent an incident like this from happening in the future. Buehler says they have implemented new procedures and all staff have gone through new training.
"This is very frustrating," Buehler said. "This has never happened to us before."