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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Local, federal law enforcement end search for escaped mental patient for the day

Rachel Alexander, Kip Hill and Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

A violent mental patient who escaped from a psychiatric hospital in Western Washington boarded a Greyhound bus for Spokane, sparking a massive manhunt Thursday in the foothills of Mount Spokane

Sheriff’s deputies and U.S. marshals called off the search for Anthony Garver at nightfall, but said they would keep extra patrols in the area and resume the search Friday.

Deputies got a tip around 3:30 p.m. that Garver was at his parents’ house in the area of MacMahan Road and Offmy Lane.

“We talked to them (the parents) and they said, yes, he was here,” Supervisory U.S. Marshal Bob Doty said. “He wasn’t there long.”

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich called the search “a pretty intense situation,” involving both federal and local law enforcement, police dogs, SWAT teams and helicopters.

Garver was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt and blue jeans. He is believed to be on foot and officials do not know if he is armed, Doty said, adding, “It’s possible he’s still in the area.”

Law enforcement has received information in the past that Garver may have a cache of weapons hidden in the East Valley area that haven’t been located, the sheriff said.

Authorities are warning that he’s dangerous. Capt. Dave Ellis of the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office advised people in northeast Spokane County to call 911 if they see anything suspicious and not to confront Garver.

“We are looking for him with everything we’ve got,” Knezovich said, adding that he’s frustrated the state of Washington continues to treat Garver as a “low-risk individual.”

History of escaping custody

Garver has a history of escaping custody.

In 2009, he was the subject of a monthlong manhunt that ended when federal agents found him hiding in the woods near Mount Spokane. He escaped from a halfway house, and in 2013 failed to check in with his probation officer after being released from federal prison. Later that year, he was accused of killing a 20-year-old woman in Snohomish County who was found bound with electrical cords and stabbed to death. Garver was found incompetent to stand trial three times while undergoing treatment for schizophrenia.

Garver, 28, and 58-year-old Mark Alexander Adams escaped from Western State Hospital in Pierce County, south of Tacoma, sometime Wednesday evening. Adams was recaptured Thursday morning in Des Moines, Washington, Lakewood police said.

Lakewood police said Thursday afternoon that Garver purchased a Greyhound bus ticket bound for Spokane on Wednesday evening in Seattle.

“At the facility he was at, he was allowed to have cash,” Doty said.

Escape may have been months in the making

Both Garver and Adams were housed in Western State Hospital’s locked civil ward, a news release from DSHS said. They were both seen around 6 p.m. Wednesday at dinner, then discovered missing during an hourly patient check at 6:45 p.m.

It appears the men escaped through a locked window in their ward. The news release said it doesn’t appear the window or lock was defective, but that the bolts on the window may have been tampered with over several months.

Court records detail Garver’s long history of both threatening behavior and mental illness, including paranoia and hallucinations.

Garver, also known as Anthony Burke, has been called a “domestic terrorist” by Knezovich as recently as 2015.

In 2006, he allegedly boasted in jail that he had ties to al-Qaida and planned to detonate a bomb at Pig Out in the Park in Riverfront Park as well as blow up a Department of Social and Health Services building. At the time, his mother told KHQ her son often got frustrated and said things he didn’t mean.

As a teenager, Garver was twice arrested on investigation of assault and malicious mischief, both after getting into fights with his mother and stepfather. Both times, the cases were dismissed.

In 2006, he pleaded guilty to domestic violence harassment in Spokane County Superior Court after his mother told police he threatened to kill her, other family members and himself.

Deputies who responded found 100 rounds of Russian ammunition at his family’s Veradale home. Garver was prohibited from having the bullets, because he had been committed to a mental hospital as a teen and served three years in federal prison. Court records from that case show Garver was ordered to receive a mental health evaluation.

He later spent a year in prison when he escaped from a halfway house and led Montana law enforcement on a dangerous chase.

In 2009, Garver pleaded guilty to taking his mother’s car without permission and served two months in jail. Court records do not indicate he was evaluated for mental health problems at any point during proceedings.

In a parallel world

Following his arrest in the killing of Phillipa S. Evans-Lopez in 2013, Garver was evaluated at Western State Hospital. In June 2015, a psychologist reported Garver’s symptoms included hallucinations and delusions that were not responding to anti-psychotic medication.

According to the report, Garver repeatedly said he was on trial for forgery and would not acknowledge people telling him he was charged with murder. Instead, he made claims about being in a parallel world and saying the charge was going to go away when he moved to a new dimension.

A judge determined Garver was not competent to stand trial for a final time shortly after that report and dismissed the murder charge against him, ordering him to be civilly committed to the hospital for ongoing treatment, saying he was a danger to himself or others.

Western State Hospital has been under scrutiny over assaults on staff and worker shortages and nearly lost federal funding last fall because of safety issues.

After Wednesday’s escapes, DSHS said the agency plans to bring in outside experts to go through the hospital and do a complete safety review, the release said.