The suspect in an attempted rape in Foley was arrested in Foley a few months before investigators said he randomly attacked and stabbed a woman along the Wilbourne Antique Rose Trail on January 17.

After being released from the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) custody on July 2, 2023, Bernard Christopher Abney was arrested for shoplifting on September 30, 2023.

Foley Police Chief Thurston Bullock told 1819 News Abney posted a preset bond the next day and was released from custody.

Abney had recently served a 20-year sentence for the rape of a 14-year-old girl. He was released early – in January of 2023 – as part of the state’s new mandatory release program. However, he was back behind bars by February for not registering as a sex offender. After being re-released from jail, he was arrested a second time in June for not registering as a sex offender.

Bernard Christopher Abney Alabama News
Bernard Christopher Abney. Photo: Foley Police Department.

Bullock said because of his history, the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office was contacted when Abney was arrested in Foley last September.

“His history did show that he was a sex offender, so we sent an administrative message through our dispatch console to MCSO to let them know he had committed a crime and was in our area,” Bullock said. “They acknowledge the message.”

Abney did not have any active warrants during the shoplifting arrest, so Foley Police could not hold him unless the MCSO requested to hold him due to a SORNA (Sex Offender Registration Notification Act) violation. However, the MCSO did not do so.

Several lawmakers and Foley Mayor Ralph Hellmich have stated Abney should not have been on the streets when he attacked the 21-year-old victim in Foley last week.

However, the ADOC and the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles maintain Abney served his time, and they no longer had custody of him after July 2, 2023.

The MCSO is reviewing the procedures that took place when Abney was arrested in September 2023.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email [email protected].

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.