SPOKANE, Wash. – A man who escaped from a Washington state psychiatric hospital where he was held after being found too mentally ill to face charges that he tortured a woman to death was captured Friday.
Anthony Garver, 28, was taken into custody by law enforcement in Spokane, Washington State Patrol spokesman Todd Bartolac said. Garver crawled out a window of a locked, lower-security unit April 6 with another patient who was caught the next day.
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 state’s largest psychiatric 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.
Authorities said he bought a bus ticket from Seattle across the state to Spokane, where he was spotted April 7. Authorities there searched for him in a wooded area with dogs, a SWAT team and helicopters after he stopped at his parents’ home in the area.
His father called authorities to say his son had stopped by but left after a short time.
The escape was the latest problem for Western State Hospital, where violent assaults on both staff and patients have led to federal scrutiny. It has increased in the wake of the escape and two recent attacks.
U.S. regulators have repeatedly cited the facility over safety concerns and threatened to cut millions in federal funding. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave the hospital until May 3 to address the violations.
Patients in the hospital’s lower-security unit are checked every hour, said Carla Reyes, assistant director of the Department of Social and Health Services’ Behavioral Health Administration, which oversees mental health services in the state.
Some high-security units require patient checks every 15 minutes, but Garver was not placed in one, staffers said. Security staff was trying to determine how the men loosened the bolts on the locked windows, state officials said.
Officials are conducting a safety review of the hospital and will bring in outside experts to help, Reyes said.
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 behaviour choked and punched a mental health technician on March 26, according to an internal report. Another report on March 23 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 state has tried to fix some of the problems by increasing funding so more staff could be hired. But the hospital has struggled with recruiting and retaining workers.