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May 17, 2013

Identity-theft victim jailed on culprit’s warrant

Kurt Millard spent most of last weekend in jail, locked up on another man’s arrest warrant. The 26-year-old resident of Joplin, Mo. could not convince his jailers they had the wrong guy. “I got the run-around the whole weekend,” Millard told the Joplin Globe. “I didn’t even get to wish my mother a happy Mother’s Day.”

Turns out his 47 hours of mistaken incarceration were an unfortunate consequence of his identity having been stolen, unbeknownst to Millard, by a suspect in a vehicle tampering case. That suspect, for whom the arrest warrant was intended, remains at large and is now being sought by the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department under his real name, Jesse Boyd.

Millard said his first inkling of all this began with a text message from a friend informing him that a local bail bondsman was looking for him. He said he had never used the bail bondsman in question and was curious why he would be looking for him and telling people he had an arrest warrant for him.

He went to the Jasper County sheriff’s office in Carthage on Saturday to try to clear the matter up. Sure enough, they had a warrant on Kurt Millard for failure to appear in court on a tampering charge originating in Duenweg, and he was placed under arrest at 12:48 p.m.

The defendant they were looking for had provided Millard’s birth date, his Social Security number, even an address where Millard previously lived when the suspect was arrested on the tampering charge.

“But they pulled up his picture and you could see it wasn’t me,” Millard said.

He was told that didn’t matter. The sheriff’s office would need more objective evidence that he was not the man named by the warrant. That meant confirmation by either fingerprint analysis or by retinal eye scanner.

Millard was placed in a holding cell while they began running his fingerprints. Since they no longer have to use the old ink method of taking fingerprints, Millard was under a mistaken impression that he was not fingerprinted by the jail until shortly before they finally released him on Monday, and that his jailers were doing nothing about his situation while he languished in the holding cell for seven to eight hours on Saturday. Eventually, he was taken back to the jail and left there the remainder of the weekend.

Sheriff Randee Kaiser told the Globe that Millard is wrong about not being fingerprinted until Monday. Kaiser said he would have been fingerprinted when he was booked. That’s standard procedure. But the way they do it now, some people do not even realize that’s what’s happening, Kaiser said.

He said Millard’s fingerprints were sent electronically on Saturday to the Automated Fingerprints Identification System operated by the FBI. But the jail did not get a response back from AFIS the entire weekend, which is not the way the system normally works, the sheriff said.

“I do not know what the reason for that is,” Kaiser said.

The situation was exacerbated by the connection for the jail’s retinal scanner to a computer database being down all weekend.

Kaiser said the sheriff’s office could not call and check on the matter with AFIS until Monday. That was when they learned Millard’s fingerprints did not match those obtained when Boyd was arrested on the tampering charge.

“We made this arrest in good faith based upon the information that was provided to us,” the sheriff said. “As soon as we got information that we had the wrong (person), we corrected that.”

Millard did not get out of jail until almost noon on Monday. He is not happy with either the sheriff’s office or the bail bondsman involved. Nor has he lost sight of whose alleged actions landed him in jail.

“I don’t know the dude,” Millard said of Boyd. “But I’ll always remember his face for doing this to me.”

He does not know how Boyd may have obtained his personal information. He lost his wallet a couple of years ago. When police found it and returned it to him, the $600 it contained from a paycheck he’d just cashed was gone. But his identification was still in it.

Millard said perhaps someone copied his personal information at that time, although that would not explain how Boyd allegedly used an address where Millard had lived since then.

Sought man

Jasper County Sheriff Randee Kaiser said investigators will be seeking charges of forgery and identity theft against Jesse Boyd, who remains wanted for failure to appear in court in a tampering case.

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