Sheriff’s deputies captured psychiatric hospital escapee Anthony Garver on Friday night after two hectic days of searching for the killer in the Mount Spokane foothills.
With the help of a search dog, Spokane County deputies and U.S marshals found Garver at 8:15 p.m. dehydrated and hiding beneath a pile of debris in the 17600 block of East Judkins Road less than a mile from his parents’ home. He was not armed and did not resist arrest.
“It was plain and simple good old fashioned police work,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich. “They were out there beating the brush.”
As deputies and marshals narrowed the search, the Sheriff’s Office used a reverse 911 call program to urge homeowners on East Judkins to stay inside. Deputies Jason Hunt and Sgt. Jack Rosenthal found him with the help of Hunt’s police dog, Gunnar.
Garver escaped from Western State Hospital sometime Wednesday evening with another psychiatric patient. The two quickly split and Garver used cash he had within the Lakewood hospital to buy a $50 Greyhound Bus ticket to Spokane.
He arrived in Spokane around 5 a.m. Thursday and by afternoon had visited his parents, who called police. Garver then left as searchers, with the help of helicopters, dogs, SWAT team members and others, cast a dragnet over the area of pine forest and rolling wheat and hay fields. Garver was found nearby.
Knezovich said he wasn’t notified until after 6 a.m. Thursday that Garver escaped.
The12-hour lapse between escape and notification of Spokane law enforcement drew sharp words from Knezovich, who said the state needs to “get a clue” when it comes to keeping dangerous patients secure and working with local agencies when there’s a problem.
“My hope is that the State of Washington finds a way to make sure this dangerous criminal does not escape again,” he said. “The last time he got out he killed a young lady.”
Garver is thought to have escaped through a locked window.
Knezovich said his dispatch center received an emailed news release from the Lakewood Police Department notifying them of Garver’s escape just after 6 a.m. Thursday. A Lakewood detective called a few hours later to follow up.
Even before it was confirmed that Garver bought a Greyhound bus ticket to Spokane, it was assumed he’d head this direction since he’d done so in previous escapes from custody, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Mark Gregory said.
“I don’t think we found out about the bus until around noonish,” Knezovich said on Friday. “It would have been nice to have received a call Wednesday night from somewhere.”
Deputies spent Thursday morning talking to Garver’s friends and family, including his parents, and canvassing the area, Gregory said. Around 3:30 p.m., Garver’s stepfather called 911 to report that Garver was at their home in the area of MacMahan Road and Offmy Lane, in the foothills of Mount Spokane.
“He wanted his passport because he wants to go to Morocco,” Knezovich said. “His stepdad slipped away and called us.”
Garver told his family that he knew police had been called and that it was “futile,” Knezovich said. The 28-year-old quickly left the home without the passport.
There were deputies in the area when Garver’s stepfather called, Gregory said. Despite the quick response, Garver could not be located and an extensive search was launched.
Garver, who is something of a survivalist, previously told officials that he had weapons and equipment hidden in the woods in the Forker Road area. Some weapons were recovered the last time Garver was found there, Knezovich said.
“We never did recover all those caches,” he said.
Garver moved from forensic to civil ward
Garver was a patient in the psychiatric hospital’s locked civil ward. When he first arrived at Western State Hospital, he had been housed in the hospital’s forensic ward, for people being treated in an effort to make them competent to stand trial.
But Garver was ruled not competent to help with his own defense on a charge of killing a Snohomish County woman, who was bound with electrical cords and stabbed to death. The criminal charges were dismissed and he was ordered held as a danger to himself or others.
Under revisions to the involuntary treatment act passed in 2013, he was ordered held on a civil commitment and moved to a different ward for those patients.
Patients have personal accounts with the hospital that hold money they may have had when they arrived at Western State, that family or friends might send them, or that they can earn for jobs they do as part of their treatment, said Norah West, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social and Health Services. Although the amount can vary for some patients depending on recommendations from staff, most can withdraw $15 in cash per week from their account, she said.
A bus ticket from Tacoma to Spokane on Wednesday evening would have cost about $47, leaving at 8:25 p.m. and arriving at 5:10 the next morning. That would have been slightly more than three weeks worth of withdrawals.
Garver arrived at Western State Hospital in February 2015, the same day as Mark Alexander Adams, who escaped with him Wednesday evening. Adams was later caught in Des Moines, Washington.
‘Very dangerous individual’
Knezovich said again Friday that he’s frustrated Garver is able to keep escaping from custody.
Local and federal law enforcement spent a month searching for Garver in 2009 when he failed to show up for his required work release. He had been convicted in 2006 of threatening to blow up a Department of Social and Health Services office in north Spokane. Federal agents finally found him hiding in the same area where authorities are now searching.
He also escaped from a halfway house, and in 2013 he failed to check in with his probation officer after being released from federal prison. Just a few weeks later, he is accused of killing 20-year-old Phillipa S. Evans-Lopez in Snohomish County.
The affidavit filed by police in the death of Evans-Lopez said Garver is “anti-government, has history of military style weapons and explosives, and he has threatened to shoot anyone who confronts him.”
One of his previous convictions came after 100 rounds of Russian-made ammunition were found in his Spokane home.
The affidavit also said Garver smiled when confronted with a blood-stained knife police found on him when he was arrested, then denied killing the woman.
Said Knezovich on Friday, “He is a very dangerous individual. Mental illness does not equate to a lack of intelligence.”
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