For five months, two patients in a locked ward at Western State Hospital worked to loosen bolts on a window in their room so they could escape.
On Wednesday evening, Anthony Garver and Mark Alexander Adams were able to open the window and get out of the state’s largest psychiatric facility.
State officials, while not confirming police’s account of how long the escapees had worked at the window, said tampering with the bolts could go unnoticed because of the way windows work.
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Adams, 59, was arrested Thursday without incident near a church and elementary school in Des Moines.
The manhunt continued for Garver, 28, who suffers from schizophrenia, limited memory, hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Late Thursday, law enforcement was searching an area east of Spokane where Garver was reportedly last seen.
Officials believe Garver bought a ticket on a Greyhound bus from Seattle to Spokane about 8:50 p.m. Wednesday. Cameras caught Garver purchasing the ticket under the alias of John Anderson, Lakewood police Lt. Chris Lawler said.
Investigators warned the public against approaching him.
“Garver is the one we consider to be scary and dangerous,” Lawler said.
He is described as 5 feet 8 and 250 pounds, with long curly brown hair, a beard and mustache. He was last seen wearing a faded brown sweatshirt and orange jail flip flops.
Police said he also uses the last name Burke and the alias Deryk Garver.
Garver and Adams were sent to the psychiatric hospital in Lakewood from Snohomish County on court-ordered, 180-day commitments to be treated for mental illness.
Adams was arrested in 2014 in Snohomish County on suspicion of second-degree assault with a domestic violence enhancement but found incompetent to stand trial. He arrived at Western State in June.
Garver was sent to the hospital in July 2014 after being found incompetent to stand trial on a first-degree murder charge.
The first-floor window Garver and Adams escaped from is 6 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide, with a 10 to 12 foot drop to the ground, said Norah West, spokeswoman for the state Department of Social and Health Services, which runs Western State.
The window usually opens with a key but some bolts were loosened over time, allowing the men to open the window, according to DSHS.
“They pivot out and keys are used to open them. One could look at them and not notice if the bolts had been tampered with,” said Kathy Spears, spokeswoman for DSHS. “Windows in every building are being double checked.”
Garver and Adams had two roommates who told police the men spent the previous five months working to open the window. The roommates were present at the time of the escape.
DSHS is doing a safety review of Western State and plans to bring in outside experts to go through the hospital, said Carla Reyes, assistant director DSHS Behavioral Health Administration.
Garver and Adams were last seen in the hospital dining hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday and Western State employees realized they were missing about 6:45 p.m. during a routine patient check.
Nursing staff checks on their ward every hour and writes on the roster what each patient is doing at the time, the agency said.
Lakewood police, who said they were notified of the escape at 7:30 p.m., searched the area and used a King County helicopter to do an air sweep but were unsuccessful.
“They had a two-hour head start on us,” Lawler said.
A Pierce Transit bus driver believes he picked up Garver near Western State shortly after 6 p.m.
Adams boarded a bus from Lakewood to the Federal Way Transit Center, where he arrived about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and asked about getting to Sea-Tac Airport.
An emergency phone notification went out Thursday morning to about 5,400 Lakewood and Steilacoom residents who live near the hospital to warn them about the escape.
Law enforcement agencies, cab companies, Amtrak, Greyhound and Pierce Transit were put on alert as well.
DSHS officials said Thursday they were not aware of any previous escapes by a patient through a key-locked window, but Wednesday’s incident wasn’t the first time a patient escaped from Western State.
A mentally ill patient who called himself the “son of Satan” escaped in 2011. The 26-year-old man, who had been approved to travel outside his ward with an escort, left the hospital through a gymnasium door that had a broken lock. He was found at a Tacoma park the day after his escape.
In 2009, another patient walked out of the hospital’s forensic unit, which houses patients accused of crimes as well as those found criminally insane. He was located the same day.
Garver arrived at Western State after being accused of tying 20-year-old Phillipa Evans-Lopez to a bed in her Lake Stevens home, stabbing her in the chest 24 times and cutting her throat.
Detectives said the two were strangers and Evans-Lopez bought him lunch at a fast-food restaurant days before her body was found.
At a bail hearing in 2013, then-Everett District Court Judge Roger Fisher said Garver is “scary, to say the least,” court records show.
Months before the homicide, Garver was released from federal prison after serving a stint for threatening to blow up a Department of Health and Human Services office in Spokane in 2006.
He was later accused of threatening to kill the deputy prosecutor and the judge in his case.
In probable-cause documents after his arrest, police described Garver as a survivalist and loner who had threatened mass shootings, had possessed military-style weapons and explosives and had threatened to shoot anyone who confronted him.
“Anthony has wanted to create explosive devices in the past using fertilizer and has aspired to emulate Timothy McVeigh,” an officer wrote in probable-cause statements, referring to the Oklahoma City bomber.
“Anthony has also studied and downloaded bomb-making information from Anarchist Cookbook’s (sic) and has studied Al-Queda (sic) training manuals.”
Garver pleaded guilty to weapons charges in 2007.
After Garver failed to report to a work-release program in 2009, officials spent a month searching for him, finding him in the woods near Mount Spokane wearing camouflage clothing.
Staff reporter Melissa Santos contributed to this report.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653