Why was murder suspect let out of jail before Machesney Park woman’s death?

Local News

(WTVO) — Ellen Marsh’s suspected killer, Shane Bouma, is charged with three counts of First Degree Murder and Home Invasion.

He also faces charges in unrelated cases. Records show that Bouma was arrested on a warrant after failing to appear in court. He was out on furlough when Marsh was killed.

We learn more about the furlough process and dig into what allowed the murder suspect to freely roam the streets.

“A furlough is essentially where a defendant, someone who is in jail awaiting trial, is let out. And there are various reasons a defendant might be let out on furlough,” explained Winnebago County State’s Attorney J Hanley.

Hanley says that Bouma requested to be furloughed last year so he could participate in an intensive drug rehab program through the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center in Rockford.

“There was an assessment done that showed that Mr. Bouma had a substance abuse issue,” said Hanley.

His furlough was ultimately granted, despite his lengthily criminal history.

“There are people who have gone to this very program and gotten the drug treatment they need, without being in the criminal justice system for a short time. And that’s led to better outcomes, both in terms of the criminal justice system and that person’s life,” Hanley explained.

Court records show that Bouma was released to the program in September 2020. Investigators believe he then escaped the rehab facility sometime before he was scheduled to appear for a December court hearing.

“At this facility, while they were monitoring his presence and treating him, they can’t use force to prevent him from walking out of the door,” said Hanley.

The state’s attorney says it’s extremely rate for defendants to violate the terms of their furlough.

“This was a tragic case, and this is an example of where furloughs can have tragic consequences. Despite the tragedy, I don’t think it’s appropriate to say no one should ever be furloughed,” he said. “But we have to acknowledge that something was missed here, and Mr. Bouma really should not have been furloughed.”

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