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Sheriff Wilcher addresses mistaken release of inmate facing serious charges

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Manhunt continues for Jose Maria Perez (Credit:Robert Catanese)

On Wednesday, Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher held a press conference addressing the erroneous release of a dangerous inmate.

“We want the public to know the sheriff’s office made a boo-boo,” said Wilcher.

That boo-boo was releasing Jose Maria Perez who is charged with a list of offenses including aggravated assault, rape, home invasion, aggravated sodomy, home invasion and obstruction.

“The process that we have in place for discharging inmates was not done properly,” said Wilcher.

Now, two of his deputies are paying a penalty.

“The two officers involved have been suspended for a week without pay,” he said.

But, Sheriff Wilcher says their mistake did not end with letting Perez go, another error could be helping Perez while he is on the run.

“The person that should have been released, we gave all the property to the person that shouldn’t have been released,” said Wilcher.

Perez walked away with a cell phone, credit cards and more than $300 in cash.

The sheriff says Perez may be in Beaufort based on his intelligence gathering.

“I have notified the U.S. Marshals, I have notified P.J. Tanner who is the sheriff in South Carolina and asked him to be on the lookout,” he said.

Meanwhile, the sheriff says he and his staff are moving forward.

“We made a mistake we own up to the mistake and were going to try and correct it.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 912-652-7710 or CrimeStoppers at 912-234-2020.