Did psych patient who stabbed a woman escape … or just walk away?
TRENTON — How did Tyrik Haynes escape from the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital? Authorities aren't saying.
Some patients are able to simply leave the grounds, and, citing patient privacy laws, authorities won't say if he was among them.
Haynes, who was a patient at the facility for the 2013 stabbing of a woman inside the Bed, Bath & Beyond store in Middletown in 2013, was reported missing on Saturday in a message posted to the website of neighboring Ewing. He was described as "dangerous" in the message.
After Haynes was captured, a new message from Ewing Police said only that he "was reported to have walked away" and was located by Human Services Police.
“Due to the ongoing investigation by Human Services Police, they did not provide much more information other than the fact that he was located outside of Ewing Township,” the statement said.
Citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other confidentiality laws, Human services Assistant Commissioner of Public Affairs Nicole Brossoie would not offer any details about how Haynes was captured, where he was found or the means by which he was able to leave the facility.
In an email to the Asbury Park Press, Brossoie wrote that "psychiatric hospitals are not prisons and that patients do have certain grounds and travel privileges granted by a judge as their behavioral health conditions improve."
Brossoie wouldn't say what privileges Haynes had, or whether there was any sort of security that should have kept him from leaving the facility.
Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Charles Webster said his office was informed of Haynes' escape but was not involved in the search for him.
While not addressing Haynes' status, Brossoie in an email with New Jersey 101.5 that "levels of privileges granted by a judge for patients with criminal backgrounds range from the highest – level 1, which requires the patient to remain on his ‘ward’ — to level 4, which allows (a patient) to travel off grounds.
"Privileges are increased when a patient engages in therapies and treatment for sustained periods of time, with positive outcomes. If a patient leaves the hospital without permission, staff alerts Human Services Police, which conducts a search on grounds and at local ‘hot-spots."
If a patient remains missing, HSP notifies local police.
Human Services Police, which handles security at the facility, at first refused to answer questions about the status of the search on Sunday morning. In a subsequent phone call the dispatcher would only confirm that Haynes was still, at that point, missing.
Former Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi told New Jersey 101.5 he recalled a similar case — after a patient with a violent past left Ancora Psychiatric Hospital. He said he was frustrated by how little information was released.
"We were trying to hunt down a guy who murdered his family and we considered him an extreme risk. It was a little chaotic with regard to getting information so we could capture the guy and we were kind of surprised he was basically allowed to walk off campus," Bianchi said. "The escapee had a high enough level of privilege that we was able to order camouflage gear and other items through the mail that no one was checking.
"It caused a lot of tension between my office and the hospital. We didn't seem to be getting a lot of help from the state in regard of 'Let's make sure this never happens again."
Bianchi said it was disconcerting that a lot of information about the escapee was not being provided.
"As far as I am concerned as a prosecutor my primary mission was protection of the people," he said. "I could care less about their policies and regulations."