Human error to blame for turning away wanted person, sheriff says

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Tonya Lunesford was watching WECT News at 11 Monday night when she saw a familiar face - her own.

After receiving a press release from the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office, WECT showed several mug shots of women wanted on charges including "operating a continuing criminal enterprise" and drug possession. One of the mug shots was Lunesford's.

Lunesford said she went straight to the Sheriff's Office in Bolivia after seeing she was wanted.  She talked with a detention officer at the jail, who told her he didn't have her in the system and didn't know why she was trying to turn herself in.

Lunesford said she was directed to go to the office on the other side of the building, where she was met with a similar response.  After about two hours, she went home.

She's upset that her mug shot is being displayed on the news when she hasn't yet been charged and has attempted to turn herself in to no avail.

According to Sgt. April Stanley with the BCSO, Lunesford is still wanted on a list of charges.  she said the detective in charge of the case had not been contacted when Lunesford tried to turn herself in.

Stanley said the error stems from not having Lunesford's name in system at the jail Monday night.

Brunswick Sheriff John Ingram issued the following statement regarding the situation:

The reason that Ms. Tonya Rene Lunesford was turned away from the detention center was a simple matter of human error. The Officer in charge of the investigation listed Ms. Lunesford as wanted with the intentions of swearing to the warrants that day, however was unable to do so. Ms. Lunesford was wanted at the time she tried to turn herself in and since that time has been arrested and charged.

Lunesford is wanted on the following charges:

  • 1 count Operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise
  • 1 count Conspiracy to possess with intent to manufacture sell and deliver sch. 3 controlled substance
  • 2 counts Possession of sch. 3 controlled substance
  • 1 count Possession with intent to manufacture sell and deliver sch. 3 controlled substance
  • 1 count Possession of sch. 2 controlled substance
  • 1 count Maintaining a vehicle for the purpose of distributing controlled substances
  • 1 count Possession of drug paraphernalia

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