Crime

One Western State Hospital escapee arrested, one still on the loose

Mark Alexander Adams, 59, and Anthony Garver, 28, were last seen about 6 p.m. in the dining hall at Western State Hospital. Lakewood police are searching for two men, who are described as dangerous. Anyone who sees the men is asked to call 911.
Mark Alexander Adams, 59, and Anthony Garver, 28, were last seen about 6 p.m. in the dining hall at Western State Hospital. Lakewood police are searching for two men, who are described as dangerous. Anyone who sees the men is asked to call 911. Courtesy of Lakewood Police

For five months, two patients in a locked ward at Western State Hospital worked to loosen bolts on a window in their room so they could escape.

On Wednesday evening, Anthony Garver and Mark Alexander Adams were able to open the window and get out of the state’s largest psychiatric facility.

State officials did not immediately offer an explanation for how that was possible.

Adams, 59, was arrested Thursday without incident near a church and elementary school in Des Moines.

The manhunt continued for Garver, 28, who suffers from schizophrenia, limited memory, hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Investigators warned the public against approaching him.

“Garver is the one we consider to be scary and dangerous,” Lakewood police Lt. Chris Lawler said.

Lawler said officials believe Garver purchased a ticket on a Greyhound bus from Seattle to Spokane at about 8:50 p.m. Wednesday. Cameras caught Garver purchasing the ticket under the alias of “John Anderson,” Lawler said.

Authorities in Spokane are assisting in the investigation, while the U.S. Marshals Service has a federal warrant out for Garver’s arrest, police said.

He is described as 5 feet 8 and 250 pounds, with long curly brown hair, a beard and mustache. He was last seen wearing a faded brown sweatshirt and orange jail flip flops.

Police said he also uses the last name Burke and the alias Deryk Garver.

Garver and Adams were sent to the psychiatric hospital in Lakewood from Snohomish County on court-ordered, 180-day commitments to be treated for mental illness.

Adams was arrested in 2014 in Snohomish County on suspicion of second-degree assault with a domestic violence enhancement but found incompetent to stand trial. He arrived at Western State in June 2015.

Garver was sent to the hospital in July 2014 after being found incompetent to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge.

The window Garver and Adams escaped from is 6 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide, and there’s a 10-to-12-foot drop to the ground, said Kathy Spears, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social and Health Services, which runs Western State.

The window usually opens with a key but some bolts were loosened over time, allowing the men to open the window, according to DSHS.

Garver and Adams had two roommates who told police the men spent the last five months working to open the window. The roommates were present at the time of the escape.

DSHS is doing a safety review of Western State and plans to bring in outside experts to go through the hospital, said Carla Reyes, assistant director DSHS Behavioral Health Administration.

“We can never have too many fresh eyes reviewing a situation as serious as this,” Reyes said. “As always, safety – for the public, staff and other patients – remains a priority.”

Garver and Adams were last seen in the hospital dining hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Western State employees realized they were missing about 6:45 p.m. during a routine patient check.

Nursing staff checks on their ward every hours and writes on the roster what each patient is doing at the time, the agency said.

Lakewood police, who said they were notified of the escape at 7:30 p.m., searched the area and used a King County helicopter to do an air sweep but were unsuccessful.

“They had a two-hour head start on us,” Lawler said.

A Pierce Transit bus driver believes he picked up Garver near Western State shortly after 6 p.m.

Police were reviewing video and trying to figure out where Garver got off the bus, which ended its route at the transit center on Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. SW in Lakewood.

Adams boarded a bus from Lakewood to the Federal Way Transit Center, where he arrived about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and asked about getting to Sea-Tac Airport.

A reverse 911 call went out Thursday morning to about 5,400 Lakewood and Steilacoom residents who live near the hospital to warn them about the escape.

Local law enforcement agencies, cab companies, Amtrak, Greyhound and Pierce Transit were put on alert as well.

DSHS officials said Thursday they were not aware of any previous escapes by a patient through a key-locked window but Wednesday’s incident wasn’t the first time a patient escaped from Western State.

A mentally ill patient who called himself the “son of Satan” escaped in 2011. The 26-year-old man, who had been approved to travel outside his ward with an escort, left the hospital through a gymnasium door that had a broken lock.

The man had been admitted to the mental hospital for a 90-day civil commitment after he set fire to his mental health caseworker’s car.

He was found the day after his escape at a Tacoma park.

Garvere is accused of tying 20-year-old Phillipa Evans-Lopez to a bed in her Lake Stevens home, stabbing her in the chest 24 times and cutting her throat.

Detectives said the two were strangers and Evans-Lopez bought him lunch at a fast-food restaurant weeks before her body was found.

At a bail hearing in 2013, then-Everett District Court Judge Roger Fisher said Garver is “scary, to say the least,” court records show.

Months before the homicide, Garver was released from federal prison after serving a stint for threatening to blow up a Department of Health and Human Services office in Spokane in 2006.

He was later accused of threatening to kill the deputy prosecutor and the judge in his case.

In probable-cause documents after his arrest, police described Garver as a survivalist and loner who had threatened mass shootings, was anti-government, had possessed military-style weapons and explosives in the past, and had threatened to shoot anyone who confronted him.

“Anthony has wanted to create explosive devices in the past using fertilizer and has aspired to emulate Timothy McVeigh,” an officer wrote in probable-cause statements, referring to the Oklahoma City bomber. “Anthony has also studied and downloaded bomb making information from Anarchist Cookbook’s (sic) and has studied Al-Queda (sic) training manuals.”

Garver pleaded guilty to weapons charges in 2007.

After Garver failed to report to a work-release program in 2009, officials spent a month searching for him, finding him in the woods near Mount Spokane wearing camouflage clothing.

In 2010,he led Montana Highway Patrol on a chase, at one point driving the wrong way on Interstate 90 and trying to hit cars head-on.

DSHS officials said they are not aware of any previous incidents of a patient escaping through a key-locked window but it isn’t the first time a patient has escaped from Western State Hospital.

A mentally ill patient who called himself the “son of Satan” escaped in 2011. The 26-year-old man, who had been approved to travel outside his ward with an escort, left the hospital through a gymnasium door that had a broken lock.

The man had been admitted to the mental hospital for a 90-day civil commitment after he set fire to his mental health caseworker’s car.

He was found the day after his escape at a Tacoma park.

Staff reporter Melissa Santos and The Seattle Times contributed to this report.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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