A massive manhunt is underway for a convicted child rapist who was released from prison by accident.
Tony Maycon Munoz-Mendez had been serving a life sentence for molesting and raping his former girlfriend’s young daughter over several years, when he was released from the Rogers State Prison around noon on Friday.
According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, Munoz-Mendez was released “in error” and has been on the run for days.
“Munoz-Mendez is wanted for escape/release in error from Rogers State Prison,” the department said, also warning the public not to try to apprehend the suspect on their own.
Authorities have not said what led to the accidental release.
“All resources are being utilized to ensure the rapid apprehension of Munoz-Mendez,” department spokeswoman Lori Benoit said, according to local station WSB-TV. “The public is reminded to call 911 and do not approach.”
Munoz-Mendez had been serving time at the prison since April 2015.
The Gwinnett County prosecutor who helped put the child rapist behind bars called his accidental release “incomprehensible.”
“They need to re-think how they’re handling their security, and how they let people out by mistake. It’s incomprehensible,” prosecutor John Warr told local station WXIA-TV.
Warr recalled the case being “especially bad” and said the abuse occurred when Munoz-Mendez was living with his girlfriend. He began molesting his girlfriend’s daughter when she was about 10 years old, before progressing to raping the young girl repeatedly.
The girl had tried to tell her mother about the abuse, but she chose to believe her boyfriend’s denials.
“Her mother failed to report that to the police, or take any measures to keep her daughter safe from this person in the home,” Warr said.
The victim’s mother later pleaded guilty to child cruelty in the second degree for failing to intervene to stop the abuse, the station reports.
Munoz-Mendez continued to proclaim his innocence; however, he was sentenced to life behind bars in March 2015.
In 2014, he had reportedly written the judge in the case that he hoped to get the trial over with as soon as possible and be proven innocent so he could reunite with his children, WSB-TV reports.
“I have no family here in the United States to help me out and I have to rely on myself on everything and it’s hard. I know I’m innocent,” he said.
Warr said he has notified the victim’s foster mom of Munoz-Mendez’s escape.
Anyone who comes in contact with the prisoner is urged to contact authorities. He is described as 5’9” and weighing 186 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.
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