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Fake Fax Temporarily Frees Prisoner

November 18, 2004  | 

An Arkansas jail released a man charged with burglary and theft after receiving a phony fax supposedly from a police detective. It was later discovered the fax was sent from a fast food restaurant.

Tristian Wilson was set to appear in West Memphis District Court for a bond hearing on the charges brought against him. When he didn’t appear, the judge checked into it and discovered Wilson had been released.

According to Assistant Chief Mike Allen, a fax was sent to the jail that stated, “Upon decision between Judge Rainey and the West Memphis Police Department CID Division Tristian Wilson is to be released immediately on this date of October 30, 2004 with a waiver of all fines, bonds and settlements per Judge Rainey and Detective McDugle.”

Although judges sometimes notify jails to release inmates by fax, upon closer inspection it was clear that this one was fake. It was sent unusually late at night – after 11:00 p.m. – and it wasn’t sent on letterhead, although the letters “CID” in bold appeared in the header of the fax. More importantly, the detective’s name was misspelled in the fax and the fax number was that of a local McDonald’s.

The fact that this obviously fake fax was accepted and used to release a prisoner is being looked into to prevent the same situation from happening again.

Wilson is now back in custody with added charges. When police arrived at his house to arrest him and bring him in again they saw, lying in plain sight, items that linked him to other local robberies.

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