‘This Cannot Happen Again,’ Sheriff in Washington Says After Psychiatric Hospital Escapees Are Caught

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“The last time he was out,” a Washington state sheriff said of Anthony Garver, “he killed a young lady. That has weighed heavily on my mind.”

Mark Alexander Adams, right, and Anthony Garver, left. are pictured. (Credit: Lakewood PD)

Mark Alexander Adams, right, and Anthony Garver, left. are pictured. (Credit: Lakewood PD)

This time, history did not repeat itself.

Instead, a sheriff’s department sergeant, deputy and K-9 “got a strong hit, … stayed on that trail, lost it, backed up, relocated it and found Mr. Garver hiding under a pile of debris” in a wooded area near Spokane on Friday night.

“Food and water was his enemy,” Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told reporters, noting Garver was “taken into custody without incident.”

The capture of the 28-year-old, who sometimes uses the last name Burke, means both of the dangerous men who walked out of a psychiatric hospital Wednesday are no longer at large. Mark Alexander Adams, 58, was captured a day later in Des Moines, a city about 15 miles from downtown Seattle.

Still, Knezovich is worried about the next escape. He noted that another person walked away from Western State Hospital, just as Garver and Adams had, on Wednesday. There was also “brutal murderer” Phillip Arnold Paul, who disappeared during a 2009 mental hospital field trip to a fairground and was found 72 hours later, 200 miles away.

Garver was a fugitive in 2013 when he allegedly used electrical cords to tie a woman to a bed, then stabbed her about a dozen times, killing her.

“So there seems to be a pattern here,” Knezovich said. “The state of Washington needs to get a clue.”

Escapees ruled not competent to stand trial

Garver and Adams had violent criminal records but weren’t in prison. Judges had ruled both of them not competent to stand trial.

Adams was arrested for second-degree assault/domestic violence in 2014 for choking someone, according to Chris Lawler, a police spokesman in Lakewood where Western State Hospital is located.

The previous year, while being pursued on several outstanding warrants, Garver allegedly killed 20-year-old Phillipa S. Evans-Lopez. Detectives linked him to her death based on evidence from the crime scene and surveillance video showing the two of them together in the days before her death, according to the Snohomish County, Washington, Sheriff’s Office.

He and Adams had been committed for mental illness treatment to Western State, described on its website as “one of the largest psychiatric hospitals west of the Mississippi,” with more than 800 beds. In fact, they shared a room with two others.

Other roommates told police that Garver and Adams noticed a loose window about five months ago, then spent the weeks thereafter manipulating it so it could open wide enough for them to leave, Lawler said.

That’s exactly what they did between dinner time at 6 p.m. Wednesday. It was about hour and a half before authorities realized they were gone.

Took buses around Washington state

Their next move was hop on separate buses. Adams took one from Lakewood to Federal Way, Washington, arriving there around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. There, according to police, he asked how to get to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

He never got there, but he got close. He was caught just a few miles south in Des Moines.

Garver made it to Seattle, and Wednesday night he bought a bus ticket to Spokane under the alias John Anderson.

“We have stills of him purchasing the ticket,” Lawler said.

Once in Spokane, Garver contacted his parents and asked them for his passport so he could fly to Morocco, according to the Spokane County sheriff.

The parents called police.

“They know that this individual needed to be brought back into custody,” Knezovich said.

Nearby in a wooded, mountainous area of the Spokane Valley, authorities managed to track down Garver. The sheriff indicated the fugitive had been “bunkered down … based on the condition he was in when he was found.”

“It was, plain and simple, good old-fashioned police work that captured Mr. Garver,” Knezovich said.

Sheriff: ‘This cannot happen again’

The sheriff was relieved that things didn’t turn out much worse, as they had in 2013. Knezovich is convinced that he could well have lashed out.

“He intended to have a mass casualty event in this community,” the sheriff said without elaborating.

Now the challenge is to make sure Garver, who headed to Spokane County’s jail after getting medical attention, doesn’t get free again.

“My hope is that the state of Washington keeps him under wraps this time,” Knezovich said.

Washington state Department of Social and Health Services official Kathleen Spears told CNN affiliate KOMO that the third person who walked off the Western State Hospital grounds had been committed there — like Garver and Adams — after being ruled not competent to stand trial.

This unnamed patient had been arrested for burglary and violating a no-contact order and, according to KOMO, remains at large.

Charles Hammock, who lives in Lakewood near the hospital, told the station he thinks he’s ready for anyone dangerous.

“I’ve got a dog,” Hammock said. “And if it doesn’t bark good, I’ve got a double-barrel shotgun.”

Knezovich doesn’t think citizens should have any reason to worry, but the state “needs to figure out how to keep [dangerous people] from escaping. This cannot happen again.”