Neighbors, law enforcement concerned after psychiatric patient with history of assault escapes Virginia hospital

Virginia

DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) – A patient with a history of assaultive behavior is still on the run after escaping a Dinwiddie psychiatric hospital Tuesday afternoon.

Now, those living in Dinwiddie are on edge, hoping authorities find him.

“Anytime that somebody leaves under these circumstances, there is a concern,” Major William Knott with the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office told 8News in an interview Wednesday.

Richard Wilson Garrett didn’t use any force but ran away from staff at around 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, right before he was being put in a van to be taken to another building. He was at a building where classes are held on the Central State Hospital campus, being moved back to the building he lives in.

Hospital staff tried to stop him and bring him back to the van but were unsuccessful. Sheriff’s deputies, Virginia State Police, the game warden with conservation police and the K9 unit out of Colonial Heights have all helped to find him.

While trying to track him down, Major Knott said authorities found clothing items. He said they’re not sure if the items belong to Garrett but said the items could’ve been his.

He said authorities continued to try and track down Garrett’s whereabouts Wednesday.

Major Knott said it’s concerning that Garrett has escaped, especially knowing his criminal background.

“There were charges associated with assault on law enforcement, eluding police, so that, from a law enforcement standpoint, that is concerning,” he said.

Emerald Hammond’s grandmother lives just across the street from Central State Hospital.

“I did look at his history and I’m worried he could hurt someone else,” Hammond told 8News.

Major Knott confirmed that Garrett was in the hospital after being found not guilty by reason of insanity in Carroll County, Virginia. Garrett was originally in a different psychiatric hospital somewhere in Virginia and then transferred to Dinwiddie.

“He had previously lived in the Hillsville area and had some charges in that area prior to being institutionalized,” Major Knott said.

Since Garrett has been in Dinwiddie, Major Knott said Garrett was charged with assault.

He said this isn’t the first time this has happened. There have been other escapees from the Central State Hospital that Major Knott said authorities have captured in other parts of the country. Hammond, whose grandmother worked for the hospital for two decades, agreed.

“When she used to work there, she was backing up out of her driveway and she said she looked and there was three people from central state sitting on her porch and this probably was like in the ’90s,” Hammond said. “And she said they asked her, hey, can I come stay at your house?”

Garrett is described as a white male, 5 feet and 11 inches tall and weighing 165 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black jacket and a black stocking cap.

Major Knott asks the public not to confront Garrett if they see him, but to instead call the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office or local law enforcement.

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