September 3, 2014

Woman on a pass from Merced County jail disappears

A 31-year-old Fresno woman escaped custody of the Merced County jail on Tuesday while on a pass to visit the Fresno County Superior Courthouse, according to documents examined by the Sun-Star.

A 31-year-old Fresno woman escaped custody of the Merced County jail on Tuesday while on a pass to visit the Fresno County Courthouse, according to documents examined by the Merced Sun-Star.

Megan D. Conley was given an 11-hour pass by Merced Superior Court Judge Ronald W. Hansen to attend a Fresno court hearing under the supervision of Conley’s stepmother, Sherry Courtney, according to court records.

The Merced County Sheriff’s Department said Conley disappeared around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, but her family did not notify law enforcement until some time after 5 p.m. “The stepmother said she was looking for (Conley) and did not notify us until after business hours,” Deputy Delray Shelton said. “She (Conley) is now a wanted person.”

Conley arrived around 8:20 a.m. at the Fresno courthouse in the 3300 block of East American Avenue. She may have told her stepmother she needed to use the restroom and never came back, according to initial reports the family provided the Sheriff’s Department.

Details of the case in Fresno against Conley were not immediately available.

Conley has pleaded not guilty in Merced Superior Court with numerous felony drug and theft-related charges, according to court records. She had been in custody since June 14 at the John Latorraca Correctional Facility, according to booking records.

She is scheduled to appear in court today for a hearing in connection with a stolen vehicle and methamphetamine possession case, according to court records.

The pass issued allowed Conley to attend court in Fresno. She was released from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to court records.

Deputies described Conley as 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing about 105 pounds, with shorter blond hair. She was last seen wearing a black shirt, blue yoga pants and white tennis shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Department at (209) 385-7434. Callers may remain anonymous.

Conley is at least the third inmate in 2014 to walk away from custody while on a day pass from jail. Two others escaped earlier this year while returning from interviews with residential drug-treatment facilities.

An inmate who escaped July 9 is suspected of being aided by a former employee of the Merced County Public Defender’s Office. That case is pending in Merced Superior Court.

The recent escapes prompted officials to examine procedures for how inmates are transported to and from appointments. The Public Defender’s Office has permanently eliminated the the program that allows the office to transport inmates, Merced County Public Defender David Elgin said Wednesday.

“Exactly what is going to be done about (the transport program) remains up in the air,” Elgin said. “We’re still in discussions with our partners in the justice community, but our office will no longer transport individuals.”

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