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Utah cops on lookout for potentially violent mental hospital escapee

Published June 25, 2013 2:07 pm

Provo facility • 28-year-old may be violent, authorities say.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Police statewide were looking on Tuesday for a potentially violent mental patient who escaped from the Utah State Hospital.

Hospital and law enforcement officials confirmed that Richard Ryan Brock, 28, was last seen running away from a group just outside the Provo facility on Sunday morning.

Brock's grandmother, Rebecca Haynes of Salt Lake City, said family members were notified of the escape Sunday afternoon and told "not to worry."

But Haynes said she is concerned, because her grandson as a history of going into psychotic rants and rages — though his sparse criminal record does not contain convictions other than drug-related counts stretching back to 2006.

Haynes said Brock once attacked a staffer at the hospital, an allegation Utah Department of Human Services spokeswoman Elizabeth Sollis could not immediately confirm. However, Sollis did acknowledge that by their very nature, patients involuntarily committed to Utah State Hospital all have the potential for violent behavior if not receiving the appropriate treatments.

"He's out there without his meds and could be suicidal," Haynes said. "He needs to be found and put in a safe and secure place."

Haynes also said that Brock had called his sister Sunday evening on what they assumed was a stolen cellphone, and that police in Utah and Salt Lake counties had attempted to trace its location, possibly to a Salt Lake City residence.

Attempts to contact Hospital Superintendent Dallas Earnshaw on Tuesday were referred to Sollis. She said Brock's escape was immediately reported the Provo police on Sunday, but because of a "misunderstanding between our security person and the [police] dispatcher, a missing person report was not entered into the National Crime Information Center system until Tuesday morning.

Specifically, Sollis said, there was confusion over how soon the escape could be entered as a NCIC alert. In normal missing persons cases a 24-hour period must elapse, but in cases of a mentally disabled or disturbed individual that waiting period is waived.

"It is extremely unfortunate that this happened," Sollis said, noting that the hospital staff has been reminded of the nuances of reporting and DHS has also shared its concerns with Provo police officials.

Provo police Lt. Mathew Siufanua confirmed Tuesday morning that police were just beginning to act on a report of the escape, but he indicated the "misunderstanding" was more on the hospital's side.

Provo police dispatchers did receive a call from the hospital staff on Sunday, Siufanua said, and immediately issued a statewide "attempt to locate" for Brock. However, the hospital did not request a missing person report per se, he said.

That report was not filed until Tuesday morning at the request of Haynes when she returned a call to police; an officer had left a message for her on Monday when he tried to reach Haynes to answer an earlier inquiry about her grandson's case.

"We have detectives on this now and are actively searching for [Brock]," Siufanua said.

According to 3rd District Court records, Brock was committed to the hospital on January, 2011, being transported directly from the Salt Lake County jail, where he had been incarcerated on suspicion of attempted drug distribution counts.

In ordering Brock to the hospital, Judge Judith Atherton wrote that he "has a well-established history of schizoeffective symptoms which currently include pressured speech, flight of ideas, marked delusional beliefs, disturbances in thought processes and content... "

In addition to not being able understand charges then pending, the judge noted that "Brock believes his [defense] counsel ... is his wife from his pre-mortal life. As a result of this belief, he reports that it is difficult to talk with her."

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims