Escaped murderer highlights security concerns at state hospitals

San Antonio State Hospital security problems

SAN ANTONIO -- A murderer was found wandering the streets of San Antonio after escaping a mental institution for the third time in a year.

Gary Ligon was returned to the San Antonio State Hospital after being found less than two miles away, two days after he escaped. He had been sent there after being found not guilty by reason of insanity for killing and dismembering his wife 26 years ago.

New information suggests that he may have simply walked out of the facility.

According to the Department of State Health Services, Ligon was assigned to their forensics unit after he was assessed and determined he was not a danger. The forensics unit, itself, is protected by an eight- to 12-foot fence, but patients there are able to leave with supervision.

The day Ligon left, he was one of five patients being accompanied by a single staff member.

From there, he was able to walk over or around a patchy, six-foot fence to leave the facility.

Representative Roland Gutierrez, who represents the district in which the hospital is located, says that he was immediately disheartened by the news.

“I have a concern, my constituents have a concern,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez wrote a letter to the commissioner of the DSHS on Wednesday asking Ligon be relocated to their maximum security facility in Vernon. He says that the state needs to look into funding for mental health given the fact that facilities across the state are understaffed and under-resourced.

“We need more funding in our system," Gutierrez noted. “It’s not fair to the community, and it’s not fair to the other folks in the facility that need that help.”

Ligon was found by SAPD on Tuesday after they received reports that he was wandering the streets near the San Antonio State Hospital. It was the third time he's escaped SASH. He was able to escape for a short time in September of 2015 and again in October, 2015.

According to DSHS, employees didn’t stop him from leaving because they aren’t trained to restrain patients, which could place themselves or the patients in danger.

(© 2016 KENS)


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