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Corrections employee placed on paid leave after murder suspect mistakenly released

Rodriquez Purnell was awaiting trial on murder and other charges when he was mistakenly released Oct. 17 from the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center.
Rodriquez Purnell was awaiting trial on murder and other charges when he was mistakenly released Oct. 17 from the Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center. (Handout photo courtesy Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services)

A corrections employee has been placed on paid leave after a murder suspect was mistakenly released from a downtown facility last week, state officials said Wednesday.

The employee was placed on leave Tuesday after the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services discovered that Rodriquez Purnell was released on Friday. The employee was not identified.

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Officials acknowledged release procedures were not followed and continue to investigate how Purnell was able to leave the facility.

"The Department's review will not only include the actions of the employee, but all related policies and procedures, to see whether anything needs to be changed in the wake of the error, or whether this was simply the result of one employee's failure to adhere to established policies and procedures," officials said in a statement Wednesday.

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Purnell, who remains missing, was being held at the Maryland Reception, Diagnostics and Classification Center until his November trial for the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Terrence Rheubottom in March 2013.

Rheubottom's mother, Jacqueline Davis, has said that it was only after her family notified authorities that Purnell was loose that they began looking for him. A state corrections spokesman confirmed that the agency learned of Purnell's release Sunday through a citizen tip, but said he could not say whether it was from Davis' family.

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