Fugitive accidentally freed but recaptured
Guards apparently misread paperwork and let child-abuse suspect Eric Jones go
An accused child abuser featured on "America's Most Wanted" and wanted on the mainland was given a few hours of freedom yesterday when sheriff deputies mistakenly set him free.
Eric Isoen Jones was released at Honolulu District Court at about 2:45 p.m., but less than three hours later, he was back in custody, caught again by U.S. marshals.
The Honolulu Police Department put out a public appeal for information leading to his capture.
"He was wearing a white paper suit, has some cash and may have caught the bus," the news release said.
Honolulu CrimeStoppers coordinator Sgt. Kim Buffet said Jones was tracked to Hawaii by his cell phone and was appearing at District Court yesterday on a liquor violation. He had to answer the charge before he could be extradited to Utah.
U.S. marshals arrested Jones, 35, at Pacific Marina Hotel near Honolulu Airport on Tuesday night in connection with the abuse of his 1-year-old son in Utah. In the Utah case, Jones allegedly put his son in scalding water in November 2006.
The child was rushed to a hospital with third-degree burns covering 50 percent of his body. He was hospitalized for several months and had 13 surgeries, police said.
Jones was featured on "America's Most Wanted."
"The fugitive who was on the run for committing an inhumane, violent assault on a precious baby will now face the firm grip of justice," said Hawaii U.S. Marshal Mark "Dutch" Hanohano soon after the arrest.
Louise Kim McCoy, spokeswoman for the Public Safety Department, said that after the District Court hearing, the judge set a follow-up court date for Jones for Sept. 18.
"The paperwork came back down to the cellblock saying the judge had ordered that he could be released to appear for another court date," McCoy said. "The deputies in the cellblock inadvertently released him after getting that paperwork and let him walk out."
She said there was other paperwork mandating that he be kept in custody because he is wanted in Utah.
The department is investigating the incident, she said.
U.S. Marshals Service spokesman Jay Bieber said marshals tracked Jones down in the Liliha area using investigative information that led to his arrest on Tuesday.
At about 5:30 p.m., marshals saw Jones get into a vehicle driven by another person on Judd Street and stopped them at Liliha and Wyllie streets.
Jones, who had changed back into the clothes he was arrested in on Tuesday, was arrested without incident, Bieber said.
Officials took him to the Honolulu police cellblock, where he is being held on an extradition warrant.
The driver of the vehicle was released.
Bieber does not expect Jones to be charged with a crime in connection with his release. He could still have to answer local charges before being sent back to Utah.
"I'm relieved that we were able to take him back into custody in such a short time," Bieber said.