LAKEWOOD, Wash. – When a man accused of torturing a woman to death broke out of Washington state's largest mental hospital with another patient in early April, officials called it a rare occurrence and cited only two other escapes in the past seven years.
But a review of police reports and interviews by The Associated Press reveal 185 instances in which patients escaped or walked away in just the past 3 1/2 years or so.
Authorities say at least five patients committed assaults or other offenses while they were out.
State spokeswoman Kathy Spears says escapes from inside the hospital are "extremely rare." She says most reports to local police involve patients who don't return after being allowed to leave hospital grounds for a short time.