WESTON -- Lewis County Sheriff Robert Rinehart and several deputies captured two criminally charged patients Tuesday afternoon, less than a day after the pair left William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital without authorization late Monday.
Gerald Williams, 38, of Taylor County and Scott Salisbury, 25, of Harrison County, were located just after 4 p.m. Tuesday near the Camden Post Office and were returned to the hospital, Rinehart said.
Rinehart was patrolling U.S. Route 33 when he spotted Williams, he said, although after checking a photograph, he decided not to investigate further.
"It didn't look like him, so I kept going and then a resident called in and said the guy was slinking around behind some buildings so we turned around and went back."
Rinehart said the men had run into the woods, where they surrendered to police without incident.
Williams and Salisbury were committed to Sharpe by court order for pre-trial psychiatric testing. They are facing respective charges of nighttime burglary and child abuse/neglect, according to State Police Sgt. Joseph Menendez.
Menendez said it's not the first time patients have left the facility without authorization.
"They can walk off the hill," he added of the Weston hospital's open border.
Jack Clohan, administrator of the 150-bed psychiatric facility, said Tuesday that hospital officials had worked with law enforcement in the search.
"We're just very happy that they're back and we can continue to treat them," he said Tuesday night. "Whenever something like this happens, there is always a review of the incident so we can determine how it happened and to ensure that it doesn't happen that way again."
The hospital is one of two state-run psychiatric facilities, with the other in Huntington. In addition to patients on site for pre-trial testing, Sharpe's patient base includes individuals that have voluntarily committed themselves, those whom courts have committed for non-criminal reasons, and convicted-but-insane patients who are serving jail or prison terms.
Clohan said Tuesday that all of the patients at the hospital are in a secured environment, although some do enjoy a certain level of autonomy and freedom. Patients in the hospital for involuntary reasons, such as pretrial examinations, do not have ground privileges and are supervised, he said.
A third patient also left without authorization. Bryan Harbison, 26, was captured by the Lewis County Sheriff's Department Monday night and returned to the hospital. No further information about Harbison was available from authorities.
Regional editor Nora Edinger can be reached at 626-1403 or by e-mail at email@example.com.