UPDATE: Alleged sexually violent predator back in custody after he was mistakenly released from Fresno County jail

3 psychiatrists deemed Juan Manuel Zamora too dangerous to release into society and worthy of a lifetime commitment to Coalinga State Hospital.

Saturday, October 24, 2020
Alleged sexually violent predator missing after Fresno County jail accidentally released him
EMBED <>More Videos

The Fresno County Jail accidentally released Juan Manuel Zamora, 54, on Wednesday.

FRESNO, Calif. -- UPDATE: Investigators got a tip a couple hours after our story aired and sheriff's deputies say they found Zamora hiding under a tarp at a relative's house in Sanger.

Original story follows.


An alleged sexually violent predator is free in Fresno County because of a mistake at the jail.

The jail accidentally released Juan Manuel Zamora, 54, Wednesday and he skipped court Thursday.

California's Megan's Law website says the convicted sex offender is incarcerated.

Court records show his conviction for sexual battery by restraint in 2009, and another for lewd and lascivious acts with a victim under the age of 14 in 2015.

His sentence on the most recent case was almost finished when the Fresno County district attorney filed a case to classify him as a sexually violent predator - a violent sex offender with a diagnosed mental disorder.

"If the state hospital or CD deems you a sexually violent predator or somebody that can be a sexually violent predator, then they file a petition for a civil commitment that's above and beyond the criminal commitment," said legal analyst Antonio Alvarez.

Three psychiatrists deemed Zamora too dangerous to release into society and worthy of a lifetime commitment to Coalinga State Hospital.

As of last week, Zamora also faced another felony child sex case stemming from a pair of 2013 incidents with a teenager, but prosecutors dropped it on Oct. 14.

Alvarez says memories and evidence can get worse over time, and the pending sexually violent predator designation could've convinced prosecutors society would be safe even without a new conviction.

"If this person is supposed to be in the hospital, not supposed to be in the streets, I'm sure that factors in the decision not to pursue the 2013 case," he said.

But the Megan's Law website is wrong, and society may not be safe.

A week after that case was dismissed and the day before he was supposed to appear in court on his sexually violent predator case, he got released from jail and he walked out the front door.

A spokesperson for the Fresno County Sheriff's Office told Action News they're investigating how it happened and they're out looking for Zamora.

We tracked down some of his family members in Sanger who said they knew he got out. They didn't know it was by mistake and told us they didn't know where he was.

He's not in trouble for leaving the jail, but he is facing a lifetime commitment if he gets caught.