Psychiatric patient had no supervision at the time of escape

Jason Mark Carter (Source: Williamson County Sheriff's Office)
Jason Mark Carter (Source: Williamson County Sheriff's Office)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A patient who escaped a Columbia psychiatric hospital was unsupervised at the time he fled the hospital grounds, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Mental Health told WIS.

Mark Binkley with the department of mental health said Jason Carter, 39, was part of a paid patient work program at the Bryan Psychiatric Hospital, working with the hospital's supply department, delivering items like linen, cleaning produces, office produces and mail.

The program requires each patient to be immediately supervised. At the time of the escape, Binkley said that Carter was not supervised.

Officials at the hospital said they believe Carter left the facility in a stolen government van sometime between 10:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Thursday. He was not reported missing until noon.

The Department of Mental Health Public Safety did not issue a nationwide notice to authorities until at 1:20 p.m.

Carter had been part of the patient work program since 2010, and it's not all that common for the work to be outside of the buildings, but Carter's assignment was, Binkley said.

The patient work program has been suspended at the Bryan Psychiatric Hospital, and is under review, Binkley said.

Carter was taken into custody Friday at a motel near Interstate 40, about 40 miles west of Nashville and arrested him without incident at about 9:15 a.m., according to The Tennessee Department of Homeland Security.

Investigators said they traced Carter's cell phone to a tower in Tennessee and notified authorities there. It is believed Carter stole a van from Craft Farrow State Hospital and later bought a Chevrolet Lumina.

Just before 7 a.m., a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer spotted the vehicle at a hotel off Interstate 40 and found that Carter checked into the hotel at about 4:30 a.m. Friday.

A hotel employee told CNN affiliate WKRN Carter paid cash and seemed completely normal.

Carter was committed after a judge ruled him incompetent to stand trial following the 2006 murders of his mother and stepfather in Seneca.

During his trial, Carter's defense attorney said the defendant did not remember killing Kevin and Debra Ann Perkins.

Testimony showed deputies believed Carter, slept, ate, and drank in the room with the two bodies, which were wrapped in plastic for three days, until police showed up at the home to check on the couple.

Carter was in the home when investigators discovered the bodies.

Experts during Carter's trial testified that with medication, Carter's condition could be controlled. It's unclear if Carter escaped the facility with any medication.

Carter was taken to the Williamson County Jail where he is awaiting extradition to South Carolina. A court date has been set for Jan. 16.

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