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‘Promising’ leads followed in mistaken release of inmate

Steven L. Robbins  |  Cook County Sheriff's photo

Steven L. Robbins | Cook County Sheriff's photo

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Updated: February 1, 2013 11:16PM



The search continued in Chicago and beyond Friday for a Gary man serving a 60-year sentence for murder who mistakenly released Wednesday from the Cook County Jail in Chicago.

“We’ve received a number of pieces of information that we think are pretty promising,” Cook County Sheriff’s spokesman Frank Bilecki said Friday morning.

Investigators looking for Steven L. Robbins, 44, have spoken to some of the felon’s relatives in the Chicago area, while the search continues in Indiana, where Robbins is from, Bilecki said.

“Everybody’s looking for him,” said an Indiana police source.

Robbins was convicted in the 2002 murder of a man outside a birthday party in Indianapolis.

According to court records, the victim had intervened in an argument between Robbins and Robbins’ wife. Three witnesses to the killing told police at the time that Robbins then retrieved a gun from a car and shot the man in the chest.

Robbins was arrested June 12, 2002, at the Day’s Inn Motel, 1350 E. 83rd Ave., Merrillville.

Published reports show that Robbins attempted to elude Merrillville and Indianapolis police officers serving the warrant, but was quickly arrested.

Robbins was convicted and began serving a 60-year sentence at an Indiana prison in 2004. His earliest projected release date was June 29, 2029.

On Tuesday, Robbins had been released from the Indiana State Prison on a court order to Cook County Circuit Court to face separate Illinois charges, but the charges against him were dropped, officials said.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office, which runs the jail, is now investigating why Robbins was released from the jail on Chicago’s Southwest Side around 7 p.m. Wednesday night, Bilecki said.

A preliminary investigation indicates there was no “hold” order to keep Robbins in the jail, so staff believed he was free to go.

Robbins appeared in court next door at the 26th and California criminal courts building and was escorted back to the jail where Cook County Department of Corrections staff reviewed his paperwork to determine if he should go to a cell or be released, Bilecki said.

Bilecki reiterated that an initial investigation showed there was no paperwork indicating he should be held. And there was no indication jail staff helped Robbins.

“He walked out of Gate 5 [of the jail] and hasn’t been seen by authorities since,” Bilecki said.

Robbins was discovered missing from the jail as authorities were preparing to return him to Indiana on Thursday afternoon.

A warrant for Robbins’ arrest has been issued in both Indiana and Illinois. Some 200 officers from federal, state and local law enforcement on both sides of the border are looking for Robbins, authorities said. While Robbins has some ties to the Chicago area, he has lots of ties to the Indianapolis area, authorities said.

Cook County officials acknowledged the mistake in a press release.

“The sheriff has ordered an investigation into the facts and circumstances regarding his court appearance and release from custody,” according to the release from the sheriff’s office.

Robbins was described as a black male, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 190 pounds. The right side of his neck bears a tattoo reading “Nicole.”



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