A patient who escaped from the North Texas State Hospital's Vernon Campus is back in custody. The 17 year old was arrested in Sweetwater late on Monday after escaping the Vernon facility on September 23rd.
Lieutenant Randy Hanes with the Sweetwater Police Department said his department had been on the lookout for the patient since his escape. At the time of his escape, Vernon Police told Newschannel 6 the patient may be headed toward the greater Lubbock area where he was from.
When Sweetwater Police realized the patient was at his home, they attempted to make an arrest. The patient's mother tried to hide him, and he fled out the back. The patient returned later and was arrested. His mother was also arrested for hindering apprehension and another person at the residence was arrested for an outstanding warrant.
Nolan County Sheriff David Warren said the patient is being held in the county jail on charges of Escape, a felony, and evading arrest, a misdemeanor. Together, the charges carry a $23,000 bond. Sheriff Warren said he expects the County District Attorney to review the case and send the patient back to Wilbarger County to face the felony charge.
The patient initially escaped with another man but hospital security was able to locate one of the patients. Vernon police warned residents to secure their property as they searched for the patient.
At the time of his escape, Vernon Police Chief Tom Wilson said he had consulted with NTSH staff and they were not considering the patient a threat to the public. The Adolescent Forensic Program, where the patient was being held, is for non violent offenders.
The suspect is described as a 17 year old Hispanic Male. He stands 5 ft. 9, weighs 140 lbs and has short curly hair.
Police also the patient may have stolen a truck with the intent of trying to go home to the Lubbock area. A maroon 2001 Dodge Dakota pickup was stolen from a neighborhood near the facility between 7 and 11 Monday morning.
Police called in multiple agencies to assist with the search. Chief Wilson said, "We're not 100% that he did leave the area but the timing would seem right that he possibly could be in this vehicle. We are still continuing to look in the Vernon area as well, along with the surrounding areas and counties."
In September a spokeswoman with the NTSH said the Vernon Campus was conducting its own internal investigation. We reached out to them today for an update but no one returned our calls.