The capture of a man found hiding under debris in the woods after he escaped from a psychiatric hospital where he was held because he was found too mentally ill to face murder charges comes amid heightened scrutiny of the facility.
Anthony Garver, 28, was apprehended without incident Friday night in Spokane. Garver was taken into custody by law enforcement in the city, Washington State Patrol spokesman Todd Bartolac said. Garver escaped from the Western State Hospital on Wednesday after he crawled out a window of a locked, lower-security unit with another patient, Mark Alexander Adams, 58, who was caught the next day.
KEY DEVELOPMENTS >>
- 2 patients escaped from WA Western State Hospital on Wednesday
- Both escapees back in custody by Friday
- 3rd missing patient confirmed Friday, 4th went missing Friday night
- Patient 3 had ground privileges, didn't return, still missing
- Patient 4 found by Seattle police, in custody now
On Saturday, Washington state's Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement on the incident. Read below.
"The safe recovery of both patients who eloped from Western State Hospital is welcome news. I thank the men and women of the Lakewood Police Department, Des Moines Police Department, Spokane Police Department, Spokane County Sheriff's Office, the State Patrol, U.S. Marshals and others who acted swiftly to capture Anthony Garver and Mark Alexander Adams. This incident put the public at risk, the staff at risk and the patients at risk. Legislators and I have been working together to provide much-needed resources and staffing to bolster the hospital's abilities to treat patients in a safe and timely manner. But this raises serious questions once again about the management and operation of this troubled hospital.
"I expect Western's management and DSHS to work swiftly to determine how this happened and what needs to be done so it doesn't happen again. DSHS leadership’s decisions to temporarily revoke all off-site privileges and to deploy additional security are good first steps. But much work remains and I expect swift action.”
The escapes intensified federal scrutiny on the hospital, Washington's largest psychiatric facility. Western State had already been under investigation for attacks on patients and staff and a failure to improve safety.
Garver was charged in 2013 with tying a 20-year-old woman to her bed with electrical cords, stabbing her 24 times in the chest and slashing her throat, prosecutors said.
He had been moved to a lower-security unit of the hospital after a judge said mental health treatment to prepare him to face criminal charges was not working and ordered him held as a danger to himself or others. Garver has a history of running from law enforcement, and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich had strong works for state officials about the fact that he was able to make another run for it.
"The state of Washington needs to get a clue," the sheriff said. "This cannot happen again."
On Friday, the hospital revealed another patient was missing. That patient, who authorities did not consider an immediate danger to the public, has not been found since failing to return from a group outing the same day the other two men escaped. The hospital did not identify the patient. The incidents did not appear related.
On Saturday, it became known that Friday night a fourth patient went missing. That patient was located and taken into custody Saturday afternoon by Seattle police.
"Although the escape from inside the hospital Wednesday is rare, unauthorized leave is not an uncommon occurrence. However, two unauthorized leaves and two escapes in one week is unacceptable and immediate steps are being taken to improve security at the facility and to retrain staff. The safety of the public, the patients and staff is paramount,” said Carla Reyes, assistant secretary for DSHS Behavioral Health Administration in a statement.
U.S. regulators already were investigating a recent violent attack on a hospital worker and a patient-on-patient sexual assault at Western State Hospital. A workplace inspection released this week found a series of missteps that posed safety risks, including unlocked rooms, unattended items that could be used as weapons and workers who abandoned their posts instead of watching patients.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has repeatedly cited the facility over safety concerns and threatened to cut millions in federal funding. An agency spokesman says the hospital is under additional scrutiny over the escapes and recent assaults.
Garver, who bought a bus ticket from Seattle to Spokane after he escaped, had last been seen on Thursday in the Spokane area where his parents live after his father called authorities to report his son had stopped by briefly. Authorities used SWAT teams, dogs and helicopters to search for him.
Knezovich said two police officers tracked Garver with the help of a police dog and found him about 8:15 p.m. in trees above the home of his parents. Garver was hungry and dehydrated and receiving medical treatment before being transferred to jail, the sheriff said.
Mark Alexander Adams, who escaped with Garver, had been charged with domestic assault in 2014. Like Garver, he was found too mentally ill to stand trial and a judge ordered him held at the hospital.
State officials would not explain why Garver, an ex-felon with a history of running from authorities, was kept in a lower-security area. Some high-security units require patient checks every 15 minutes, but Garver was not placed in one, staffers say.
"He was in a locked area with locked windows and hourly checks," said Kathy Spears, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees the state's mental health care.
The history of violence at the facility stretches back years. Hundreds of employees have suffered concussions, fractures and cuts in assaults by patients, resulting in $6 million in workers' compensation claims between 2013 and 2015. Patients also have attacked other patients, causing serious injuries.
Most recently, a patient with a history of violent behavior choked and punched a mental health technician on March 26, according to an internal report. A March 23 report said a male patient slipped out of his monitors and was found in a bathroom with another male patient, who said he was sexually assaulted.
The hospital faces new scrutiny after the two attacks and escapes, said Steven Chickering, associate regional administrator of a division of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In addition, the hospital's safety and emergency management manager sent a memo to staff Thursday citing numerous violations observed during a recent review.
Some of the problems involved how the hospital is laid out, "but they also observed actions by staff that could pose a safety and/or security risk," Pamela Rieta's memo said.
Her team saw a patient wearing a long necklace, telephones with long cords, an unattended chair and other items that could be used as weapons left at the nurse's station, the memo said.
Cabinets and lockers in activity rooms and kitchen areas were unlocked and unattended. Patients returning from ground privileges were not scanned for contraband. Several kitchen doors were propped open without staffers present, allowing patients to enter, the memo said.
The team also saw staff leave their posts "to hang out and talk ... not observing the patients."
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