ICE slams N.J. county jail over Missouri triple murder suspect

An ICE official said the incident "might have been avoided" if the jail released the man to their custody

A Mexican citizen charged in a Missouri triple murder was previously jailed and released in New Jersey on domestic violence charges. 

Luis Rodrigo Perez, 23, was being held at the Middlesex County Jail in December of last year on domestic violence charges. But the county did not honor a detainer from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), John Tsoukaris, head of the agency’s Newark field office, said in a news statement Friday.

He said Perez was released from the jail in February 2018, without ICE being notified.

Authorities in Missouri said Perez and a 19-year-old accomplice killed two of their ex-roommates in a home in Springfield Mo., on Nov. 2. He is also accused of killing another 21-year-old woman the next day.

Police who charged him alleged Perez shot and killed Steven Marler, 38, and Aaron Hampton, 23, after they were kicked out of a house.

The next day, a relative found Starr’s body at her home. She’d been shot six times, authorities said.

“This tragedy might have been avoided had it not been for the reckless policy required of the Middlesex County Jail by their county officials,” Tsoukaris said.

ICE’s Newark office has clashed with the jail before. In July, when announcing an arrest sweep of 37 people, a spokesman called out Middlesex as a “sanctuary county.”

But county officials said they will honor detainers if an inmate has a prior first- or second-degree conviction or was named in a Final Order of Deportation signed by a federal judge.

“ICE has the legal authority and the resources to secure such orders from a federal judge with regard to any inmate in the county’s custody it seeks to detain or deport,” county officials wrote in a statement at the time.

But ICE, they wrote, “has chosen not to seek such orders.”

Also charged in the Missouri case was Perez’ girlfriend Dalia Garcia, who took a bus from New Jersey to help burn evidence, authorities allege. She is charged with tampering with evidence.

-This article contains information from The Associated Press.

Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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