Fugitive accused of stealing murder victim's car in custody

Updated:

Robert Craig Sandman, 52, is in custody for allegedly stealing the car of a murder victim.
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —

Police say a fugitive wanted for stealing the car of a Duluth murder victim is in custody in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Robert Craig Sandman, 52, is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Albuquerque.

He was wanted by Duluth police and the state of Georgia, but New Mexico authorities let him to walk out of Sandoval County Jail last spring.

Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh confirmed Monday afternoon Sandman faces charges for allegedly stealing the car of a Duluth man found dead in his garage. Sandman has not been charged in the victim’s murder. The extradition process will be underway once Sandman appears before a magistrate judge in New Mexico, police said.

Kavanaugh reported months ago that Sandman was allowed to walk out of a jail in New Mexico and that two months passed before local authorities realized it.  Kavanaugh investigated the mix-up and found fingers being pointed across the country between Georgia and New Mexico.

Sandman went to jail for aggravated stalking and theft. He was released from a Georgia prison in March. Two days later, crime scene tape surrounded the home of his ex-girlfriend’s neighbor, a 57-year-old identified as Donald Singer. Police said Singer's car, a Porsche was gone.

Within days, Duluth police named Sandman a person of interest in Singer's death. In early April, New Mexico authorities located him and the stolen Porsche. He went to jail, but the clock was ticking.

"The sheriff's department was never notified that he was ready to be picked up. As the clock was ticking 20 days later, they released him," said Maj. Don Woodruff of Duluth Police Department.

Duluth police said they frequently checked in on Sandman's extradition status. Yet, two months passed before they realized he was out.

Channel 2 Action News obtained the New Mexico judge's order dated May 13.

It says "The state of Georgia was given twenty (20) days to perfects its extradition. As of this date, Georgia has failed to do this. The defendant shall be released immediately."

"I don't know why someone in Sandoval County couldn't pick up the phone and say he's ready to go. If you want him come get him," Woodruff said.

Duluth police said it was New Mexico's responsibility to contact the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department. They said it's possible notification went to a Georgia Probation office. The Department of Corrections denies receiving any notification at their Lawrenceville Probation Office. It's unclear if notification could have been sent to another office.

According to court records, Sandman's criminal history includes nine years for a murder in New Mexico. A Georgia judge sentenced him to 10 years with one to be served for aggravated stalking and theft charges.

Sandman is a person of interest in Donald Singer's death. The medical examiner was not able to determine Singer's cause of death.

Kavanaugh will have updates on this developing story on Channel 2 Action News starting at 4.