UPDATE: Moccasin Bend Hospital escapee slipped out window - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Moccasin Bend Hospital escapee slipped out window

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Chattanooga police officers escort Robert Harris after apprehending him with the assistance of a K9 officer Monday. Harris escaped from Moccasin Bend Sunday and is accused of two counts of child rape. Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press. Chattanooga police officers escort Robert Harris after apprehending him with the assistance of a K9 officer Monday. Harris escaped from Moccasin Bend Sunday and is accused of two counts of child rape. Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: We’re learning more about how a man being held on aggravated child rape charges managed to escape from a Chattanooga mental health facility.

Robert Shawn Harris was found five miles from Moccasin Bend a day after escaping.

Harris was on a legal hold from Hamblin County for theft and at least two counts of aggravated child rape when he managed to escape from the Chattanooga facility where he was undergoing mental evaluation.

According to court documents, the orderly who was assigned to Harris left the area to go to the restroom. When she returned Harris was gone and a chair was turned over in front of an open window.

A command post was set up in the area. It was a K-9 unit which found Harris about 24 hours after his escape in a wooded area.

Harris is charged with one count of escape in Hamilton County. He’s due in court on that charge in December. It’s unclear when he was extradited to Hamblin County to face charges there.

A state spokesman released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

"In light of the recent patient elopement, staff at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute has instituted new procedures and precautions for individuals who come from local law enforcement agencies with felony charges. Additionally, we have put a team together to implement additional security strategies, with the goal of enhancing our secure hospital environment, to better protect our patients, staff and the Chattanooga community."


PREVIOUS STORY: Robert Harris is back in custody Monday, some 24 hours after escaping from the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute. Harris was wanted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office for two counts of rape of a child and a property theft charge.

The Chattanooga Police Department found Harris sweaty, dirty and out of breath in a wooded area off of Old Signal Mountain Road; about five miles from where Harris escaped. Police received several tips after releasing a photo of Harris Sunday.

"We got flagged down by a couple different people who said he was just at the raceway asking for a ride to Knoxville and then someone from this business right here came out and said he just went down those tracks," said Officer Sean O’Brien, of Chattanooga Police Department.  

The department's K-9 Atik led officers along train tracks and into the woods where Harris was found.
               
“It appeared we were just minutes behind him because it was a very fresh track and the dog was on him the whole time,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien says it was a muddy, 250-yard track that led officers deep into the woods and then to a creek bed, he says it was clear Harris did not cross.             
“When we got to the creek bed we saw fresh footprints and it clearly did not look like he crossed the creek,” O’Brien said. “It was at that point that Anik was air sniffing and told me he's high.

About ten feet above the ground, Harris was found hiding on top of a rock ledge. He was wearing the same clothes he was last seen in.
               
Kenny Kempka, a witness who works just yards away from the railroad tracks, says Harris seemed a little weird and fidgety. Kempka says after hearing about Harris’ criminal history, he’s thankful Harris is back in custody.

Moccasin Bend has not said how the escape happened. However, a spokesperson released a statement:

"At approximately 9:30 a.m. EST Sunday August 14, trained staff at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute responded to a patient elopement. Per standard facility procedures, local law enforcement authorities were immediately notified and facility staff is cooperating fully with the investigation. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will conduct an internal investigation with the full support and cooperation of facility management and staff. Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute ensures the highest quality of inpatient psychiatric services through accreditation and regulations from the Joint Commission, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services."

Harris was in custody in Hamblen County, before Sheriff Esco Jarnagin says he was transferred to Hamilton County for a mental evaluation.

“Saturday night he was suspected of possibly doing body harm to himself so the Mobile Crisis Center was brought in to evaluate. It was the opinion of the Mobile Crisis Center to send him to Chattanooga Moccasin bend to have him evaluated,” Jarnagin said.

Once the evaluation was complete, Harris was supposed to be sent back to Hamblen County Jail, where he'd await his trial date.

It is not clear what new charges Harris may face in Hamilton County. Jarnagin says it will be up to the Chattanooga District Attorney’s Office, if and when Harris is returned to Hamblen County.

Harris is being held at the Hamilton county Jail.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for more updates on this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: Chattanooga police K-9 units have captured Moccasin Bend escapee Robert Harris.

A tweet posted by the Chattanooga Police Department signaled the capture Monday morning.

Earlier in 2016, escapee Robert Harris was captured in Perry, OK where he was held as a fugitive from justice. Harris was wanted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office for two counts of rape of a child. Additionally, he was also wanted by the Morristown Police Department for Theft over $1,000.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse spokesman Mike Machak released a statement Monday morning:

"At approximately 9:30 a.m. EST Sunday, August 14, trained staff at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute responded to a patient elopement. Per standard facility procedures, local law enforcement authorities were immediately notified and facility staff is cooperating fully with the investigation. The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will conduct an internal investigation with the full support and cooperation of facility management and staff. Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute ensures the highest quality of inpatient psychiatric services through accreditation and regulations from the Joint Commission, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services."


PREVIOUS STORY: The search is on for a man who Chattanooga police say escaped from Moccasin Bend Mental Hospital on Sunday. Police are looking for 37-year-old Robert Harris and they consider him dangerous.

They said he was on a law enforcement hold out of Hamblen County. Hamblen County jail officials said he was arrested on July 30th. 

They said he's facing child rape and property theft charges. Harris is described as 5'8'', weighing somewhere between 180 to 200 pounds, and was last seen wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. 

He also has a full beard. If you see Harris, call 911.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will conduct an internal investigation into how Harris escaped.

This is the second time something like this has happened at Moccasin Bend in less than a month.

In July, Brandon Robinson, 33, escaped from Moccasin Bend Hospital and was captured in Grundy County. 

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