Reward offered for help in capturing murder suspect set free by mistake

Eric Vail
Eric Vail Broward Sheriff's Office

A fugitive suspected of murder and mistakenly released from jail is now the target of a $3,000 reward from Broward Crime Stoppers.

Eric Alexander Vail, 28, of Miami, was let out of Broward County Jail on May 30 because of a communication breakdown between authorities. He had been ordered held without bond on a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of another Miami man.

BSO describes Vail as a “dangerous criminal” with a record of violent offenses. Vail’s last known home address is 1205 NW 58th St. Anyone who provides an anonymous tip that leads to his arrest can receive a reward of up to $3,000. Call Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).

Vail, who has pleaded not guilty, had been in jail since January, originally arrested on a first-degree murder charge that was subsequently downgraded to second degree. But a grand jury indicted him and Christopher Avery Campbell, 29, with first-degree murder in April. They are accused of shooting Wadarius Harris, 27, who was driving a Chevy pickup, when their Nissan Altima pulled up alongside him. Investigators believe Vail was the triggerman and Campbell, who had been feuding with Harris, was the driver. After Harris was struck, his truck crashed into the Altima, and both vehicles flipped over on Southwest 52nd Avenue in Pembroke Park.

At a May 30 hearing, the second-degree murder charge against Vail was officially dismissed and that case was closed. But the first-degree case remained in effect. Jail deputies received the dismissal order and began the release process. They had never received documentation of the change to a first-degree murder charge and no-bond order, BSO said.

Vail walked free at 7 p.m. that evening.

“BSO investigators and the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force have prioritized the apprehension of this dangerous criminal,” BSO said. Vail had previously served eight years in prison for attempted murder and was released in 2018.

Campbell is still in jail, facing eight charges.