A convicted child molester charged with failing to register as a sex offender is on the loose after he was mistakenly released Tuesday from the Howard County jail.
Authorities say Reginald Lorenzo Garrett, 25, was arrested in April on warrants for receiving stolen property, fraud, failure to register as a sex offender and two counts of false informing.
He was being held on a $27,500 bail.
Garrett was released 11 a.m. Tuesday from custody after a corrections officer mistook Garrett for an inmate with the same last name who was to be released, Sheriff Marty Talbert said Wednesday.
“There were two inmates with the last name of Garrett in the same pod and the wrong individual was pulled from the pod,” Talbert said.
The two inmates were facing charges in different courts and the inmates were of different races, he said.
“In our profession, you have to pay attention to detail, and that obviously wasn’t done here,” said Talbert.
Deputies began searching addresses Tuesday afternoon and questioning Garrett’s friends and relatives in an effort to find him.
Kokomo police arrested Garrett, who resided in the 100 block of East Elm Street, in April on the warrants.
“At some point and time, Garrett had to realize he was not the correct inmate. He signed the other individual’s name on release documents,” Talbert said.
Garrett is a black male, standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing 185 pounds. He may wear his hair in cornrows or braids, and may have a small “chin strap” beard.
The sheriff department is asking for the public’s help in locating Garrett.
Deputies were continuing to investigate the case Wednesday.
Capt. Harold Vincent, the jail commander, is preparing a report of the incident for the sheriff.
Talbert would not elaborate on any possible penalties against the jail guard who made the mistake.
“Our first priority is to get Garrett back in custody,” he said. “Our next priority is to determine why this happened and who is responsible.”
Garrett could be additionally charged with forgery and false informing for signing the other inmate’s name.
Convicted in 2004 of molesting a 12-year-old girl in Lafayette, Garrett allegedly failed to register as a sex offender when he moved to Kokomo, Talbert said.
He was sentenced in September 2004 to six years in prison.
According to a story published in the Tribune in 2004, Garrett was convicted of having sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old girl behind a Lafayette skating rink.
At his 2004 sentencing, then Tippecanoe County Deputy Prosecutor Laura Zeman argued for an aggravated sentence, noting Garrett had juvenile convictions for child molesting in Howard County and previously had been banned from a Crawfordsville skating rink because of questionable dealings he had with 11- and 12-year-old girls there.
Garrett was released from prison in 2006 on two years probation.
• Mike Fletcher is the Kokomo Tribune crime reporter. He can be reached at 765-454-8565 or email@example.com.