Sioux Falls, SD
The South Dakota Department of Corrections is reviewing their procedures after the release of 41-year-old James McVay.
McVay is charged with murdering 75-year old Maybelle Schein in her Sioux Falls home last week. He stole her car and police arrested him near Madison, Wisconsin. McVay says he was on a cross-country killing spree that he hoped would lead him to President Obama.
Two years ago, McVay escaped from the South Dakota Penitentiary and made threats against Vice President Joe Biden. Since then he's spent time in prison in Nebraska for other charges there, but on May 11 he was brought back to South Dakota to serve out the rest of his escape sentence in solitary confinement. And, when his parole date came up last Thursday corrections officials say there were no signs that McVay was going to be a threat.
"If he would have come in on that highest risk level there's a number of things that would have happened," South Dakota Secretary of Corrections Denny Kaemingk said.
When McVay was transferred to South Dakota from Nebraska, corrections officials say it took several requests before they got any information about McVay's time behind bars in that state.
"We made a request on the 12th of May for information from Nebraska in writing. We followed that up with two phone calls and did not receive a response. The third phone call we did receive some basic information on him," Kaemingk said.
But, Kaemingk says they received no information about McVay's threats against the Vice President or any contact he had with the Secret Service, even though a Secret Service spokesman confirms they questioned McVay back in 2009 for those threats.
"We had no information that Secret Service talked to him," Kaemingk said.
Kaemingk says the information from Nebraska did show that McVay behaved well there, and that's why he was released on parole last week even though he was in solitary confinment.
"We go with what his conduct was in the institution in Nebraska, and we could not find anything in the information we got from Nebraska that would give us evidence to say he was non-compliant," Kaemingk said.
But, McVay underwent several tests, including a mental evaluation, before he was released on parole last week. And since he didn't have any place to go, he was placed in the Community Transition Program, or CTP.
"He was talked to by a case manager, he was evaluated by a medical mental health professional, and he was talked to by a release planning person. The reason he was placed in CTP is for the reasons he needed to find work and he needed to find a stable residence," Kaemingk said.
But, Kaemingk says the Department of Corrections is in the process of reviewing it's procedures to see if anything could have been done differently.
"We are taking this very very seriously of course, and that's why we're in the process of reviewing what we do. If we find things that need to change believe me we will change those," Kaemingk said.
Kaemingk says the reason McVay went back into the same minimum security unit that he escaped from in 2009 this time is because that is where the Community Transition Program is housed.
Back in 2009 McVay was still an inmate serving his time in the minimum security unit when he walked away. This time McVay was a parolee and was just being housed there until he could find work and his own housing.