November 24, 2014

Elyria
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Convict gets away again

ELYRIA — Just hours after he surrendered to Elyria police following a three-hour standoff Thursday, Drew Manns escaped from EMH Regional Medical Center, where he was undergoing a mental health evaluation.

Manns, 23, was found a short time later hiding in a garbage bin near the hospital, Elyria police Chief Mike Medders said.

EMH spokeswoman Kristen Davis said Manns walked away from the hospital’s emergency room about 9:30 p.m.

“During the course of his care, the (mental health technician assigned to Manns) left the room temporarily, and that’s when the person (escaped),” Davis said.

On Thursday, Manns barricaded himself inside his Villanova Circle home at about 11:30 a.m., hours after he walked out of an open door and climbed a fence at the Lorain/Medina Community Based Correctional Facility, where he was serving time on a charge of receiving stolen property.

The facility’s door had been left open to ventilate smoke after a computer caught fire inside about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday.

After Manns surrendered following the standoff, Medders said his officers decided not to press charges immediately, despite evidence that he’d stolen a car and taken a gun and ammunition from the trunk, because they were concerned about his mental health.

“We went to the house because we wanted to get him out before he killed himself,” Medders said.

Instead of taking him to jail, officers instead took Manns to EMH, where they stayed with him until turning him over to a mental health worker with the understanding that he was going to be evaluated and transported to a Cleveland mental health facility, Medders said.

Medders said police decided Manns was more of a threat to himself than to anybody else. They didn’t want to lock him in the jail given his frame of mind, he said.

“If the thought was he was going to hurt somebody, it would have been a whole different ballgame,” Medders said.

County sheriff’s deputies, who have not charged Manns with the escape, also were not at the hospital until after Manns was found in the garbage bin, said sheriff’s Capt. Jim Drozdowski.

“The question is, because we didn’t serve the charge against him, whose custody was he in?” Drozdowski said.

Deputies believed the hospital was watching Manns, Drozdowski said, while Medders said Elyria police were under the impression he was being committed to a psychiatric facility.

A few hours after he was recaptured, Manns was taken to North Coast Behavioral Healthcare in Cleveland, Drozdowski said. After he arrived there, he complained of chest pains and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he remained under guard by a sheriff’s deputy, Drozdowski said.

This isn’t the first time this year that a suspect in a criminal case has managed to escape from a hospital.

Justin McFadden, who allegedly led police on a high-speed chase before crashing the stolen car he was driving, was mistakenly released from MetroHealth in April after he was treated for his injuries. He was arrested nearly a week later.

Drozdowski said officials are looking at ways to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but first they need to figure out whose responsibility Manns was when he escaped from the hospital.

Manns is expected to be transferred to the county jail next week.

Elyria police plan to present charges stemming from the stolen car and standoff to a county grand jury for consideration, Medders said.

In the meantime, officials at Lorain/Medina correctional facility are conducting an investigation into the origin of the fire and whether any of their employees were negligent in allowing Manns to escape Wednesday.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.