Former IMPD detective hopes escaped murderer is caught soon

Steven L. Robbins was mistakenly released from jail Wednesday.
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A two-state manhunt is underway for a man convicted for an Indianapolis murder.

Steven L. Robbins is enjoying a taste of freedom he wasn't supposed to experience for at least 60 years. Jailers in Chicago released the convicted murder after a drug charge from the 1990s was dismissed.

Robbins should have been sent back to the Indiana prison where he was serving his sentence for a 2002 murder.

When former IMPD Officer Christina Mannina, a former homicide detective, learned Robbins was on the street, she could hardly believe it. Mannina helped put Robbins behind bars for the murder of Rutland Melton.

Robbins shot and killed Melton on May 12, 2002 on North Bolton Avenue. It was one of Mannina's first cases. When she arrived on the scene, she found the victim at 33rd and Bolton and several witnesses leading her straight to Robbins.

"It was important to get him arrested as soon as possible, because he had shot somebody, Mr. Melton, in front of a lot of people," she said.

Mannina has a 95 percent arrest conviction rate from her days in the homicide department. She starred in the police department's A&E TV reality show "The Shift," highlighting homicide investigations.

Based on her experience, Mannina warns this is a man you don't want to cross your path.

"He has spent several years in prison. He is hardened by now, I am sure," she said.

But now, with a taste of freedom, Mannina hopes Robbins is recaptured as soon as possible.

"Nothing holds bars as far as what he would do," Mannina said.

Right now, police believe Robbins could be anywhere between Indianapolis and Chicago since his release on Wednesday. They consider him to be dangerous and warn he may try to contact family, friends or former inmates.

Anyone who knows where he is can call Crime Stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.

Sheriff says mistakes were made

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says his office lost paperwork in Robbins' file that would have directed jail employees to send him back to Indiana. Robbins was in Cook County on drug and armed violence charges.

Dart said Friday that his office "made mistakes" and will find out exactly what went wrong. He says his office shouldn't have let Robbins go while in its custody.

Dart says officers have been close to recapturing Robbins and there have been sightings of the Gary, Ind., native.

Reward offered

The FBI and U.S. Marshals announced Friday they are offering a $10,000 reward for Robbins' capture.

A wanted poster describes Robbins as "armed and dangerous."

The Cook County Sheriff's Office suggested Robbins' release might have involved a clerical error.