Mom of Texas state hospital escapee speaks out

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 4:06 PM CDT
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VERNON, Texas (KEYE) - A police department in North Texas says a patient with Austin ties who was committed at the North Texas State Hospital after being acquitted by reason of insanity for murdering his father escaped Sunday night.

The Vernon Police Department says Alexander Ervin escaped the hospital around 9:15 p.m. Sunday. Surveillance video shows him leaving his secure sleeping area and jumping an 8-foot fence before leaving the hospital grounds, heading north on foot.

Leslie Ervin, who calls her son “Lex,” said she is now worried about her son’s safety, as well as the safety of anyone whom he may encounter while away from the hospital.

“At first, I was terrified for my son’s safety. That’s the first thing I thought about when I heard he was gone. Then, the circle starts widening. What about my kids? Oh my gosh, what about the people in the community, anybody he’s going to come in contact with? Right now, everybody is in danger, including Lex,” Leslie said.

In 2013, Lex was arrested and charged for murdering his father. He was acquitted by reason of insanity in 2014, and committed to the North Texas State Hospital.

Leslie said the source of her concern is the fact he is presumably off of his prescribed medication.

“He was not medicated, no, when he took his dad’s life. That’s my worry now. He was in a full blown psychosis then. He felt he was hired by the CIA and his dad was an imposter. Who knows what will happen? He hasn’t been unmedicated for many years. I’m terrified for what might happen,” Leslie said. “What happens when he’s off his meds is he becomes totally unpredictable. We don’t know what he’s going to do because I don’t think he knows what he’s going to do. At that point, everybody is in danger. All bets are off.”

Ervin’s escape caught his mother off-guard.

She said she had a pleasant conversation Sunday morning before he fled, and noted he is a different person when taking his medication.

“When he’s on his medication, and I know the last time he got his medication was 8:30 Sunday night, he’s lovely. He’s a sweetheart,” Leslie said. “I talked with him Sunday morning. Everything was normal. Nothing led me to believe anything was amiss Sunday morning. We actually talked about buying a couple of pair of pants from Old Navy that he wanted. He was looking forward to getting those.”

Concern quickly turned to frustration for Leslie Ervin.

She immediately had questions about how he was able to escape the fortress-like hospital.

“I visited him there many times. I have to go through security checks and many locked doors before I can get to him with two guards with me before I can get to a place where we can meet. It is a hospital inside. They’re referred to as patients, not prisoners, but there’s so much security,” Leslie said. “First of all, there’s a level of security there. Outside of each building, outside each door, is a cage with a padlock on it, so if you happen to get out through a locked door, there’s another level of security there.”

When looking at pictures and videos of the hospital, it’s clear there are several layers of security, including what appears to be at least one guard tower.

However, Ervin said there’s even more security than what can be seen from the outside. She also said the 8-foot fence authorities said he hopped is not even the main barrier separating the hospital from the surrounding area.

“Then, they said he hopped over a fence, as if that was the outside of the perimeter. It was not. That just led him to the main area, where he then either had to climb over a 15-foot wall covered in razor wire or walk out the front gate,” Leslie said. “I don’t understand how my son was able to leave his sleeping area, not only get out of his locked building, but then to walk out of a facility that has 15-foot fences topped with razor wire and guards. There’s guards there. I want to know how did this happen, and what are they going to do to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Leslie continued: “Somebody’s not giving me the answers, and I want to know because right there that sounds like gross incompetence to me, that a mentally ill, dangerous man is allowed to walk out of a facility that has been tasked to protect him.”

CBS Austin reached out to local and state law enforcement, as well as hospital officials to ask if any other security measures other than the ones mentioned were breached or defective at the time of Ervin’s escape. None of the law enforcement agencies responded. Texas Health and Human Services, which oversees the hospital, said they are not commenting for patient privacy reasons, citing Texas law and HIPAA.

Now, the search intensifies for Lex Ervin. His mother believes he could be heading back to Austin because that’s where he grew up, and it’s the city he knows best.

He is described as :

  • White male
  • 5′8″ to 6 ft. tall
  • 29 years of age
  • Approx. 206 lbs.
  • Bald/Mustache

If you have any information you are asked to call 9-1-1 immediately. Ervin is considered armed and dangerous.

This is what has his mother worried. She is holding out hope Lex returns to the hospital peacefully.

“You know, Christian, things like this don’t end well. It’s kind of like a prison escape. Lex left there because he did not want to be there. He didn’t want to be there. He really was looking forward to getting stepped down to minimum security at some point. That wasn’t happening as fast as he would like. I think he just snapped that night,” Leslie said. “What I hope for right now in my perfect world, Lex will turn around and walk back to the facility and say, ‘Boy, I made a really big mistake. Can I come back?’ That’s not going to happen. What I hope happens is somebody finds Lex and that the police officers understand this is an autistic man, to know he’s probably scared, he probably doesn’t know what is going on, and to just try and be kind and not react with violence at the get-go. That’s what I hope for. I can’t think of even the alternatives at this point. It’s too awful.”

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